Facebook Internet.org program which is to supply free Internet to people in developing countries is renamed as “Free Basics” and allowing developers greater flexibility in creating apps for the platform. “This gives people the power to choose what apps they want to use.” The announcement came before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Facebook’s campus in California on 27th September 2015.
Vice President of Facebook Chris Daniels said that “We’re making this change to better distinguish the Internet.org initiative from the programmes and services that Facebook provides, including Free Basics. Anyone currently using the app will be able to continue using the Android app though it will now be called ‘Free Basics by Facebook’ in Google Play. And the mobile web version, which will redirect from the previous URL, can be accessed at Freebasics.com”. He added that more than one billion people have access to Internet.org’s free basic services across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post said that in which he quoted the example of a soybean farmer from Maharashtra, Asif Mujhawar, who uses parenting app BabyCenter for free through Internet.org. “We’ve changed the name of the app providing these free basic services to ‘Free Basics. We want to make it clear that the apps you can use through Internet.org are free, basic services that can give you access to essential resources like BabyCenter”.
Internet.org is an open platform by Facebook across 19 developing countries, including India, to enable easy access of selected apps and app-based services to people at zero cost. In India, it had partnered with Reliance Communications to offer free access to about 30 websites.
By removing the word internet now, Facebook is allowing app developers to build apps and it host on a free basic platform.