Free Basics, Facebook's service which offers limited internet service for free to poorer people in developing countries, has been blocked in India, over concerns that it could violate the principles of net neutrality.
The service, which offers users free access to certain online messaging, job-finding, weather forecasting and news services, was temporarily closed by regulators in India at the end of 2015.
Some have praised the humanitarian goals of the service, but many people in India have opposed it, claiming that by controlling and dictating what internet services users can access, Facebook is going against net neutrality - the idea that internet service providers should treat all users and data the same.
In giving priority to major websites and services, some also worried that Free Basics could lock smaller companies out of the market, stifling innovation in India.
Now, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has ruled in favour of the critics, saying in a statement: "No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content." As a result, Free Basics has now been blocked.
The TRAI's ruling is the culmination of a long, high-profile battle between Facebook and Indian net neutrality advocates over the merits of the service. The two sides have been publicly trading blows for a long time, with Facebook defending Free Basics in a prominent advertising campaign.
10 facts you didn’t know about Facebook
10 facts you didn’t know about Facebook
Around 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day, with the site estimating in September last year that users had so far put up more than 250 billion images. That’s 4,000 photos uploaded every second and around 4 per cent of all photos ever taken, according to a study by Nokia.
Facebook’s logo is blue because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colour blind. “Blue is the richest color for me. I can see all of blue," said Zuckerberg in an interview with the New Yorker. The colour is so popular that Facebook’s campus store even sells nail polish in the exact shade named ‘social butterfly blue’.
Zuckerberg's famously low-key wardrobe (either a grey t-shirt or a hoodie) is so that the CEO saves time deciding what to wear each day. However, Zuckerberg is known to dress up when the occasion demands it. For a 2011 event with Barack Obama he showed up in a suit, with the president introducing himself by saying: “I’m Barack Obama and I’m the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie.”
In July 2006 Zuckerberg turned down a $1 billion offer for the site from Yahoo. He was 22 years old at the time and owned 25 per cent of the company. Zuckerberg reportedly turned it down by saying “I don't know what I could do with the money. I'd just start another social networking site. I kind of like the one I already have.” He definitely made the right choice: Facebook is now valued at $135 billion.
A YouGov poll claimed that three-quarter of UK Facebook users' photos showed someone drinking or inebriated. However, the poll did ask users to estimate the number of boozy snaps themselves, and like all things on Facebook, there might have been an element of exaggeration involved.
Facebook operates a bounty hunter program – for bugs. Like many other big technology companies Facebook offers cash rewards to security researchers who point out flaws in the site’s code. The minimum payout is $500 and the largest prize to date has been $33,500.
More than a third of divorce filings in 2011 referenced Facebook, said a survey from UK-based legal firm Divorce Online. The exact figures may be an estimate, but with just under 8 trillion Facebook messages sent in 2013 it’s certain that a substantial body of evidence is to be found on the social network.
Zuckerberg isn’t much of a Twitter fan. Despite having nearly three hundred thousand followers on the service he’s only tweeted 19 times - once in 2012 and the rest in 2009. Although Facebook dwarfs twitter in terms of active users (1 billion compared with 200 million by some accounts) the micro-blogging site handles breaking news better. Facebook has introduced trending topics and hashtags to counter this.
Following the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 Iceland decided to rewrite their constitution using Facebook to solicit suggestions from citizens. Unfortunately, despite this forward thinking approach, the document was killed by politicians in mid-2013 for various (mostly technical) reasons.
You can browse Facebook upside down. Facebook currently supports more than 70 different languages – including English (Pirate) and English (Upside Down). Check the bottom of the column on the right of your newsfeed and click your current language to change!
Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg also wrote an editorial for the Times of India in December, in which he said "everyone deserves access to free basic internet services," and asked: "Who could possibly be against [Free Basics]?"
Another newspaper editorial, written by Manu Joseph in the Hindustan Times, said that if the poor "fully understood what they are being denied by India's internet activists," they would "hit the streets and bring the nation to a halt."
In their statement, TRAI said the ruling was designed to ensure that consumers would get "unhindered and non-discriminatory access to the internet."
It said the body would "keep a close watch" on the implementation of their ruling by service providers such as Facebook, and said they may "undertake a review" of the policy in two years' time.
Speaking to The Independent, a Facebook spokesperson said: "Our goal with Free Basics is to bring more people online with an open, non-exclusive and free platform. While disappointed with the outcome, we will continue our efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the internet and the opportunities it brings.”Reuse content