UPDATE – Sign this petition to save internet!
I woke up this morning to receive a Facebook notification that three of my hundreds of friends have sent a message (copied at the end of the article) to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) in support of Digital Equality in India. It said I can send it too. Mark my words, “In Support of Digital Equality in India”. I hurriedly clicked on the notification – quite obviously I want both digital equality and net neutrality in my country – and it took me to a link in which there were primary headlines, secondary headlines, and then some editable message in the text box which had to be sent to TRAI to support Digital Equality in India. Fortunately, I knew more about “Free Basics” than any of my friends who signed it earlier and immediately sensed some conspiracy. After reading each and every word on the page, I realized the true motive behind this tactics by Facebook. It was an already-written email to TRAI by Facebook, on Facebook, and for Facebook. Can you believe that? I was outraged to see such a step by Facebook to save their own arse. If I were to believe them, TRAI is trying to ban Free Basics from India – Oh, TRAI, I love you! – and so, they wanted all Indians to save their favorite little goal of “Digital Equality” by stopping TRAI from banning Free Basics from India. It may be a fake thing that TRAI is trying to ban Free Basics and Facebook just came up with it to show public support to Free Basics, or it may be true that Free Basics is about to be banned. Whatever, as a desperate measure, they decided to cheat on all Indians and somehow they will win this race, if we don’t act now!
Well, if you haven’t been able to follow me clearly, do give me a chance to explain to you the “Free Basics by Facebook and the conspiracy involved.”
Remember “Internet.org” and the outrage against it last year? Well, people signed petitions to make sure internet.org is never provided to poor Indians as Mark Zuckerberg wanted it. Indians succeded at that moment and the outrage against internet.org was sensed by TRAI because of which Facebook was never given permission to implement it in India. Now, for more than an year, everything Mark Zuckerberg has been doing or working on is somehow related to change that image of being against net neutrality. He wants himself to be the crusader of the torch of Digital India, the dream that Narendra Modi has seen for our country. But does he really support the causes of Net Neutrality and Digital Equality?
He has been working hard to lure Indians. He hoisted Indian PM Narendra Modi for a Townhall Q&A at Facebook Headquarters in Silicon Valley. He has come to India twice, I believe, in few months and we must not miss the innumerable visits by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to meet Indian political class and setting the stage for internet.org. Oh, I forgot to mention that “internet.org” and “Free Basics” are the same thing. Facebook changed the name of internet.org after the outrage against it, playing a massive marketing stroke to alter its chances in the Indian digital market. Also, we heard the news of Mark Zuckerberg’s newly found love for philanthropy this month after his wife gave birth to a daughter, Maxima, their first child. It was all over the news that Mark has given away 99 percent of his shares in Facebook, and their value has manifolded since the news of philanthropy. It sounds like “awwwwwww” but in reality it’s “hawwwwww”. He actually gave away his assets to Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a Limited Liability Company as per United States Law. And the Facebook page of this initiative gives a hazy and vague sense of their motives, which are almost same as Facebook’s motives. So, I doubt if this was a work of genuine charity, and it was surely not traditional charity like other philanthropists do.
Now coming to the most important question –
What is Free Basics?
Free Basics, earlier known as internet.org, is a program initiated by Facebook to provide easy access to 20-30 internet websites (only those who are paying Facebook) to the poor people of the third world who still don’t have any internet access. That is simplest I can explain Free Basics to you.
It means that if you are a website owner or a wannabe website owner, then you should be the first one to oppose any such attempt by Facebook to monopolize internet. It means in future your website will never be accessible to millions of “Free Basics” users. It means, as a regular internet user and a supporter of net neutrality, you will be the second one to oppose Free Basics by Facebook. It is because “Free Basics” will create a humongous chasm between you and your poor Indian brethren. You, as a privileged class, will be able to access internet as you like it, but your poor Indian brothers will only be able to access Facebook, Wikipedia and some other websites classified as “Free Basics” by Sir Mark Zuckerberg, the ruler of internet!
Everyone knows the time is not far away when every men and women in India will have access to internet. Google is already working with Indian Railways to provide free internet at 400 Indian railway stations and Microsoft is also helping the Indian government to make India a digital country with everyone having access to internet as soon as possible. Thousands of other NGOs, private companies, and government officials are working hard daily to create a future in which all Indians will have an equal access to internet. There is no single reason, other than if you are in consanguinity (blood relative) with Mark Zuckerberg, that you should support his selfish initiative!
Now, let’s come to the worst part. Facebook is cheating on us. Facebook is doing a scam. It is doing the worst possible things to make people believe Free Basics is the best choice they have. Today’s morning notification on everyone’s Facebook profiles is the proof that Facebook is trying to initiate a revolution themselves, for their own product, and on their own platform. They are trying to play God. They are trying to make people using a wordsmith’s power to play with words. This is terrible and agonizing at the same time. They made us change our DPs when PM Modi visited Town Hall and they made us change our DPs in support of France when the terrorists attacked Paris. That was okay! But this isn’t! They cannot rule over people’s views, and shape their opinions for their own favour.
This is the screenshot of the link which proves how Facebook is luring all of us into a trap. See for yourself if you can trust Facebook anymore!
Full text of the email which Facebook wants us to send to TRAI:
To the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, I support digital equality for India. Free Basics provides free access to essential internet services like communication, education, healthcare, employment, farming and more. It helps those who can’t afford to pay for data, or who need a little help getting started online. And it’s open to all people, developers and mobile operators. With 1 billion Indian people not yet connected, shutting down Free Basics would hurt our country’s most vulnerable people. I support Free Basics – and digital equality for India. Thank you.
I am calling all the Indians here to show they cannot be fooled. All of us must unite today to tell Facebook to go the heck away with its “Free Basics” plan to rule over internet.
To count our numbers against the illegitimate and immoral plan of Facebook to use some indifferent Indians and fooling others to send emails to TRAI to show public support for Free Basics in India, I am starting a petition on change.org.
And unlike Facebook, I am not fooling you into it, you can do your own research and then sign the petition.
After signing the petition, you can also email TRAI to ban Free Basics from India.
Email id of TRAI – firstname.lastname@example.org