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Facebook's Free Walled-Garden Internet Program Ended Quietly in Myanmar, Several Other Places Last Year (techcrunch.com) 31

An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report: As recently as last week, Facebook was touting the growth of Free Basics, its Internet.org project designed to give users free curated web access in developing countries, but the app isn't working out everywhere. As the Outline originally reported and TechCrunch confirmed, the Free Basics program has ended in Myanmar, perhaps Facebook's most controversial non-Western market at the moment.

Myanmar is not the only place where Free Basics has quietly ended. The program has been abruptly called off in more than half a dozen nations and territories in the recent months, according to an analysis by The Outline. People in Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Congo, Anguilla, El Salvador, and Saint Lucia have also lost access to Facebook's free internet program. Additionally, Facebook was testing Free Basics service in Zimbabwe in mid-2016 in partnership with local telecom operator Telecel. The test program has yet to materialize into a wider roll-out.

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Facebook's Free Walled-Garden Internet Program Ended Quietly in Myanmar, Several Other Places Last Year

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was only free if we could exploit them. But they are all poor and have no value to advertisers, so we ended it.

    • Yeah I'm sure that was it. And it wasn't oppressive governments saying "no basic Internet or no Facebook at all, your choice."

    • Facebook believed the cornucopian fantasy about third world growth ... but all that's growing is their GDP and population, not their median income.

      They are poor, will remain poor and no value to advertisers indeed.

      • See, i think you're missing the point. Fuck advertising.

        Pretend it's Cold War East Germany. Would the Stasi welcome a company like Facebook operating there -- providing free internet access, and social networking?

        A corrupt government should *LOVE* that arrangement. Think about it.. Essentially they'd have a surveillance system that people actively engage in; AND the company providing the surveillance pays YOU for the privilege.

      • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @12:45PM (#56542100) Homepage
        Except that was not why it did not work out. Under this you would be provided free internet access to a weather site , wikipedia, email, some learning sites, facebook, and around 10 others with no advertisement on the pages then what you normally get.
        It was killed for india back in 2016 when people complained was against net neutrality.
        It was not that the people did not provide money to advertisers that killed it it was the narrow minded net neutrality pushers.
        • If I were in government and a company came along and told me they'd provide my country's citizens with free "curated content" out of the goodness of their hearts, I'd be extremely wary. Even if it wasn't the company but one of those charities they've set up. Ignoring those worries and focusing only on the perceived benefit would be short sighted.
        • by pots ( 5047349 )
          You give no credit to the broad-minded net neutrality defenders. They also played a hand.
  • But it'll always be Burma to me.

  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2018 @03:43PM (#56543130)

    Facebook can shut these things down for a number of reasons.

    But what was the impact? Did the people use it? Did they like it? What did they use it for? Has anyone simply asked these people their thoughts and views of the program?

    I know actually talking to the poor people of Myanmar isn't the most popular thing. But it'd be insightful and... hey, it'd be easy... if they had Internet access....

    I'd also like to know how much it cost, how much Facebook got paid in advertising, and what all they gained from it. Apparently not enough, but come on, if this is a social experiement, turn it into social SCIENCE by publishing the results.

  • When I was growing up in an underdeveloped country, I would have loved to have access to just Facebook. Keep in touch with family, participate in communities, maybe get information relevant to my life or help with school from volunteers? Bring it on! Sure I would prefer to also have bittorent and CNN. But these would probably be outside our family budget.

    Sounds like a bunch of demagogues ruined a good thing as usual.

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