Internet.org by Facebook: The vision and Net Neutrality Debate

A tech startup in 2004 which came up with the best photo sharing social networking space has now become one of the most relevant tech giants of the world. Starting from Facebook for social networking to third party app development over which gaming startups thrived to actually providing internet to the population on the wrong side of digital divide, they have come a long way.

It’s needless to say that by acquiring Instagram and Whatsapp and with the amount of activity and active users on these two and Facebook itself it has the best analytics information covering most of the internet users arguably in terms of quantity and without doubt in terms of quality. By launching Facebook APIs in 2012 which is the most common login method in US, they are not only generating information about what their users are doing on the internet but also making those users dependent on Facebook. If I use all my favorite applications using Facebook login, I just can’t remove my Facebook account.

So, after covering all these what’s the next step? To get those people who still don’t have internet and there comes Internet.org by Facebook. It provides free ‘limited’ internet services to people who can’t afford internet. It sounds brilliant except for the word ‘limited’ which sparks the net neutrality debate, one of the hottest internet debates in the world right now.

Why Facebook as a community is doing this? Optimists talk about Corporate Social Responsibility whereas the cynical ones mark it as a step towards covering the untouched market and spreading it there in a monopolistic way by providing those limited services which have some sort of association with them. Well, they are both right to a certain extent.

Now, unlike the telecom operators like Airtel coming up with Airtel Zero just for big corporate giants to pay them for internet, Facebook have classified some important sections for the masses like education, skill and jobs, information and news etc covering the most relevant uses of the internet. But then, two other factors need to be considered which challenge the sanctity of the initiative.

Firstly, Internet.org should not be available to everyone, it should only be available to those who can’t afford internet, if that’s the true aim of providing essential information based services to the people on the wrong side of the digital divide. This sounds far-fetched as far as implementation is concerned but there’s a simple way. You can either choose a data plan provided by your network operator or Internet.org, you can’t have both and these should be on a monthly basis so that people just don’t keep switching to free internet as per their will. A lot of people who can afford internet would never go for limited services provided by Internet.org this way. Everyone who has used internet as it exists today wants it to be unhindered.

Secondly, Internet.org hasn’t included any Google services which is in collusion with their corporate interest of keeping Google out of the new market they are trying to cover. It is quiet natural but as far as a consumer is concerned Google and it’s various tools provide unmatched knowledge and information. Replacing Google with Bing can still be justified as a substitute although it truly isn’t but not having Youtube indicates malicious corporate market covering strategy. Youtube has become the most popular learning and skill development tool and needs to be there if internet as a learning tool is being professed.

But, as far as one of the most significant debates considering the net neutrality is concerned, Facebook is putting in a dedicated effort towards it. The argument is that net neutrality is essential for web startups and curbing it will curb all web startups. Facebook is already providing Parse for a quick and a robust back-end development for tech startups to make their products and have come up with FbStart as an entire tool to build, grow, monetize, analyze and expand the web based tech-organizations and it is free. They have access to the user based analytics information which is provided along with development mentorship and finally development for low bandwidth regions andInternet.org! So, it might violate net neutrality in some ways but is not curbing web based tech organizations to enter the space and the new market.

So, we might argue that Facebook is violating net neutrality but certainly not to the diabolical extent as the telecom companies who have run out of ideas. It is probably doing more good than evil. It is trying to hamper competition from another giant Google but is still encouraging startups to be a part of it and go along with it to get into the new market and provide services to the population who are still not on internet because they can’t afford it. Yes, it is attaching itself to all of them in the process but is providing them unprecedented benefits while trying to become the most significant name in the internet domain.

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Welcome To The Greatest City On Earth. Conditions Apply.

Just brilliant, most of my thoughts poured in one comedic article!

Ashish Shakya

(Note: This is my HT column dated 31st May 2015.)

Earlier this week, a Muslim woman named Misbah Quadri alleged that she was forced to vacate her rented apartment in Wadala, Mumbai, because of her faith. This story came as a shock to exactly zero people, because if you’ve spent more than ten minutes in India, you know that bigotry and hypocrisy are our finest talents, second only to telling people that they’ve put on weight yaar.

But then came the twist: it was reported that the building she was evicted from houses other Muslim residents who’ve never faced such problems, and that she was evicted after a spat with her broker that had nothing to do with religion. If that’s true, then congratulations to Misbah for arming people with one more reason to turn down minority tenants.

This contradiction gave a bunch of people the chance to crow ‘SEE…

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Till Death Or Other Weird Reasons Do Us Part

Ashish Shakya

The Great Indian Wedding Season is drawing to a close, which is sad because I look at weddings the same way I look at getting tasered – it’s great fun if it’s happening to someone else. The best one I attended was basically a beach-and-beer party where there just happened to be a ceremony. However, recent news events have made me realise that you can do all the cool stuff you want at your wedding, but if it’s going to go through without anyone getting ditched at the altar, then don’t even bother inviting me.

The gold standard for excitement was set by a bride in U.P this week, when she canceled her wedding at the last moment after realising that the groom had hidden his complete and utter lack of education from her. She did this by pretending to be a human Captcha. No, seriously. She asked the groom…

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Mother Teresa, aptly described by Mr. Julio Rebeiro; as against Mohan Bhagwat;

SILENT VOICE

Julio Rebeiro does not need any introduction. However, here is what Wikipedia tells us about him………..GREG

Julio Francis Ribeiro (born 5 May 1929, in Mumbai (Bombay)) is a retired Indianpolice officer and civil servant. He held increasingly responsible positions during his career, and led the Punjab Policeduring part of the Punjab insurgencyperiods. In 1987, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award for his services. Since retirement, he has served on corporate boards of directors and performed social work.

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Did Mother Teresa want to convert those she found on the streets and took into her care?  I doubt if those poor specimens of humanity were in any position to understand her version of god.  I doubt if Mother Teresa could find an appropriate opportunity to preach Christianity to people who were starving, naked and in the throes of death. 

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Why do some people hate Mahatma Gandhi?

Answer by Abhishek Nisal:

I hate Gandhi. Hating Gandhi gives me a ‘cool’ feeling as I hate someone who is supposed to be loved by millions.Now I’m very different from a majority of others.

I haven’t read any literature on Gandhi. Not even his autobiography, my only sources of information are Facebook posts by random people and blogs written by attention seekers. It is from these people only that I learnt a good deal about Gandhi which then led me to hate him.

I am at a stage of age where rebellious attitude is present in me. I have grown up reading in school books how good Gandhi was and how evil Hitler was. So I want to show other people that I am not among the sheep.
Saying "I like Hitler for his strong will and patriotism. Hate Gandhi for partition and favouring Muslim community," has some shock value to it and people take notice of such statements.

I comfortably forget the fact that Gandhi’s independence movement was the world’s largest people’s movement and the entire nation rallied behind him.

I hate him because I’m different . And i am Cool Dude !!!

—      “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”     — M.K.Gandhi

Why do some people hate Mahatma Gandhi?

Sporting Rivalry and Jingoism

India just defeated Pakistan for the 6th time in the Cricket World Cup. It’s 6 wins out of 6, for purely sporting reasons it makes me happy but is totally overshadowed by the useless mocking of the nation associated which is beyond sports. There will be mocking, sporting rivals call for “rubbing it in the opponent’s face” traditionally and is acceptable to a sporting extent. But, when the rivalry is associated with something more and becomes a part of the derision it’s at least uncalled for.
A lot of Indians, considering recent form were realistically expecting India to lose the match but the comprehensive win pumped them up so match that many of them are ready to give it in writing that Pakistan can never beat India in a World Cup match. They are pumped up and it’s explicable but the emotions running so deep that people start making fun of Pakistan as a nation considering their social, moral, political and economic predicament is something where ideally a line needs to be drawn. That’s just general public, you can expect such reactions but when Indian media invites Pakistani media for conferencing so that both of them can make fun of each other and after the victory Indian media can deride them as a cricket team, their media and as a nation, it’s beyond unprofessional, it’s inexplicable.

As a humanitarian, the state of affairs in Pakistan troubles me. A lot of people, especially in the aftermath of this win might call my statements sympathizing with Pakistan in way, an act of sedition but if a winning a sporting event where you had no role to play is your patriotism which is so extreme that you can’t stop yourself from mocking other humans who didn’t have any role to play in the sporting event either and are just somehow surviving in a dire state then I can totally understand why my statements will be considered sedition by you.

For once, I would be happy to see some positive non-sporting emotions like humanity become a part of sports. For instance, if an Indian feels happy if Pakistan wins the world cup, considering that it would provide moral and some financial boost to their country. That’s a long shot! But, among the brouhaha on social media, this image published by a leading newspaper is very encouraging.

indpak

Je Suis PK and All India Bakchod

Some really offensive events took place in India and the world in the last month. To begin with, some religious extremists could not tolerate some cartoons about their God and killed them. Charlie Hebdo, whose intention was to question the nature of this irrationality called religion went too far with their offensive cartoons. They made demeaning cartoons of Jesus, cartoons of Pope using condoms and then attacked Prophet for which their place were firebombed. Any other “strictly meaning business” organization would have taken the safe logical route of not trifling with religion but not Charlie Hebdo. They increased their attack on the ones who were insecure enough to retaliate and tried to beat the irrationality by being irrational in fighting a hopeless battle. The world knows how it ended on January the 7th. That didn’t stop them, they came up with another sarcastic cartoon saying “Prophet forgives everyone,” nor did it stop the world, it sparked a movement, an outrage which makes me wonder, was it worthwhile, was it more than a lost cause? It seems like it but it’s not, there are so many religious liberals afraid of religious extremism, they will let Charlie Hebdos do all the dirty work with passive support and will only show outrage in events like these only for a very limited time. Do I blame them? Not really, we all know, we have one life and so much we can do with it. If we can ignore the daily fiasco related to religion which we read in the newspapers globally to stay alive, why shouldn’t we? It’s the rational thing to do when there is so much talk about rationality.

Moving on to India, someone influential in India took on religion and spread the message of atheism in the form of a movie called PK. The medium was again humor to instigate logic and insinuate the underlying irrationality. They subtly pressed questions like how irrational is it to impose a certain religious tag on a child based on your beliefs, based on birth, based on a biological accident. I really appreciated the idea and so did many, although in the end, the movie tried to be politically correct in asking the viewers to have faith in god without being religious. I really don’t mind that, but the problem is, can it be done? If people start realizing that they don’t need religious institutions as a means of connection with god, wouldn’t they go one step further in realizing that they don’t need god? They can just be patient with the randomness in their lives. Once again, the movie attacked all religions, but the religion in majority in the country which has been spreading a false sense of insecurity and siege mentality among it’s followers retaliated. One religion couldn’t tolerate the mockery of their Gods and retaliated by demanding bans and vandalizing movie theaters running the movie. They became outspoken and demanded boycott of the lead actor of the movie who belonged to a different religion even though the movie director, producer, script writer and most of the other actors belonged to their own religion. Such is the insecurity that it was seen as a battle for religious dominion. How did the liberals react? They watched the movie and made it the highest earning movie in Bollywood history. It’s a good answer but once again without any lasting impact, once again we are being rational, allowing someone else to do the dirty work.

Then came the humor group called AIB (All India Bakchod) with some Bollywood stars with the Indian version of ‘Comedy Central’s Roast.’ AIB, who have risen from Youtube fame to set a benchmark in Indian comedy, have received a lot of accolades from liberal and intellectual people as being a quantum leap in the standard of Indian comedy. They have raised the level from politically correct and immature humor to brutally honest, crass, direct and offensive humor which mirrors the Indian society’s hypocrisy beautifully. Although, it was known that their humor can only appeal a few liberals in the country and is not for mass appeal, but when they tied up with famous bollywood stars, things had to reach the masses. They were audacious in their use of expletives which everybody uses and somehow everybody needs to hide the usage in public domain. They attacked people directly, subtle attack on everything nonsensical and hypocritical. I had just read an article that Baba Ramdev is selling products in Haryana to help women bear male child, was reading about right wing extremism and moral policing and I came across this and I kept on wondering, which India is real? They both are but how can they co-exist? If the former India finds out about the latter, wouldn’t they just mute them? My question was answered the next day. Every right-wing believer had taken offense in the indecency of the show. They displayed their hypocrisy by using the same expletives for AIB which they so blatantly opposed. People have filed official complaint and threatened ban on movies of the actors involved unless they apologize. AIB had catered to a very limited tolerant audience till now but this time the intolerant ones heard them and for the first time I heard their mass criticism because of a change in masses. That’s a good sign for me, that’s a growth, that’s a success in their right to offend. But, once again, all we can do is laugh at the humor and the hypocrisy which is opposing it.

In all the three scenarios, the reason was humor and the retaliation was insecurity. So, if you are so insecure about something, it further questions the need of that particular thing in your life and indicates that the people questioning it have made a vital breakthrough. I sincerely believe after these three occurrences that we need to have a right to offend as an extension of freedom of speech. I believe that people are taking something whose very identity needs to be discussed way too seriously and in their insecurity of losing their sacred belief which is under scrutiny they are counter attacking the ones who are trying to reason