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New Delhi, Nishi Jain(mensxp): Ever since Mark Zuckerberg changed his Facebook profile picture to a tricolor shade to show support to the Digital India campaign by the Modi government, we Indians have been following suit. Our timelines are flooded with tricolor profile pictures created from fb.com/supportdigitalindia. Now like everybody, you may think this is a gesture to support digital India. But it is not.
For every profile picture that is changed, a vote goes in support of internet.org. Yes, it means you’ve automatically voted against net neutrality.
Truth is that this is a clever, albeit subtle, tactic to promote Facebook’s new initiative called internet.org. Facebook, in collaboration with 6 companies, namely, Samsung, Ericsson, Media Tek, Opera Software Nokia and Qualcomm, launched internet.org that plans to provide free internet services to developing countries.
Now it may sound like a great philanthropic idea, one that would help digitalize even remote villages, it actually is a blow to internet freedom and net neutrality. Facebook is piggyback riding the digital India movement (which is a great ) to position itself as a benefactor that will provide free internet in India. Fact is that internet.org, if implemented, will do everything except benefit a developing country like India. Here’s why:
The free internet service will be available only to Reliance users, since the partnership is with Reliance. And the “free access” that is being much talked about will only be to Facebook and its 50 partner sites, which is nothing but manipulating internet users with a carrot-stick tactic. Everyone loves free internet, which is why users will limit their internet usage to sites that are free.
And this will mean the death of startups, a culture that is booming in India. No small company or website can possibly compete with a biggie like Facebook that is providing free internet. The mushrooming of a zillion new businesses, especially indigenous, will simply be impossible. Imagine what would have happened if the British had priced English goods at dirt-cheap rates; yes, death of indigenous business. Clasicc case of big fish eliminating small fish.
Some time back, when the country had risen in support of net neutrality signing petitions to save it, big players like The Times of India and NDTV had pulled out of internet.org citing the violation of net neutrality.
So, if you think that by changing your profile picture you are supporting the cause of a digitalized India, don’t. You are unconsciously helping Facebook kill net neutrality. This Facebook post sums it all too well.