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Here's free Internet! But you can only use Facebook-approved apps

Caitlin McGarry | Aug. 4, 2014
The social network's humanitarian mission to get the world online is skewed towards Facebook.

Facebook competitors could join the Internet.org coalition, which counts Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, and Qualcomm among its founding members, and work out a way for their services to be included in the Internet.org app. Or they could separately hammer out deals with carriers to offer their service to subscribers without data plans, which is what Twitter has done with a program called Twitter Access.

But the goal of Internet.org is to show people what they can gain by having a data plan, and to that end, it's been successful. Zuckerberg said in February that when Facebook worked with The Globe, a carrier in the Philippines, to offer basic services for free, the number of subscribers doubled.

"What we want to do next is have a year-long period to dive into this with folks to show that the model works," Zuckerberg said at the time. "And then we could come back here in a year or two and have a more programmatic way to work with carriers."

As Internet.org develops partnerships with carriers and builds out its roster of basic services, Facebook should keep in mind that its efforts will color how people see the Web — and with great power comes great responsibility.

 

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