Facebook's Zuckerberg: If You Oppose Our International Power Grab, You're An Enemy Of The Poor

from the shining-beacon-of-hope dept

Last week we noted that India had shut down Facebook's Free Basics program, arguing the company's plan for zero rating Facebook-approved content and services is effectively glorified collusion; an attempt to eventually corner global ad markets under the banner of altruism. The country has been trying to craft net neutrality rules, and has slowly realized that whatever neutrality looks like, Facebook deciding what content Indians get access to isn't it.

Obviously this has annoyed Facebook, which, under the international lobbying leadership of former FCC boss Kevin Martin (historically tone deaf to the nuances of net neutrality here in the States), has consistently tried to shame critics of the program as extremists and enemies of the poor. That narrative continued this week, with Facebook running ads in Indian newspapers claiming that Facebook's walled garden had miraculously helped the nation's farmers improve their crop yield:
This was accompanied by an editorial in Indian newspapers by Mark Zuckerberg, also promoting the amazing strides made by "Ganesh the farmer":
"A few months ago I learned about a farmer in Maharashtra called Ganesh. Last year Ganesh started using Free Basics. He found weather information to prepare for monsoon season. He looked up commodity prices to get better deals. Now Ganesh is investing in new crops and livestock. Critics of free basic internet services should remember that everything we’re doing is about serving people like Ganesh. This isn’t about Facebook’s commercial interests – there aren’t even any ads in the version of Facebook in Free Basics.
It's the aggressive pretense that Facebook's engaged in pure altruism that has made the company's efforts so obnoxious to many, including a growing legion of Internet activists in India. Many are smart enough to realize that once Facebook is entrenched as the gatekeeper to content, it will be entrenched as the cornerstone of developing nation ad markets. So yes, while there's no ads embedded now in Free Basics, it's obvious that there eventually will be. And as companies like Mozilla have argued, if Facebook is so in love with the helping Indian farmers like Ganesh, why not help fund access to the actual Internet?

Facebook's no stranger to net neutrality, having had a front row (albeit largely apathetic) seat to similar debates in countless countries, including the States. Yet Zuckerberg pretends to be shocked that anybody could possibly oppose a plan that doesn't provide access to the full power of the Internet:
"Who could possibly be against this? Surprisingly, over the last year there’s been a big debate about this in India. Instead of wanting to give people access to some basic internet services for free, critics of the program continue to spread false claims – even if that means leaving behind a billion people. Instead of recognizing the fact that Free Basics is opening up the whole internet, they continue to claim – falsely – that this will make the internet more like a walled garden.
Except a walled garden is exactly what Facebook is building. And pretending the entire country's poor will somehow be left behind if one doesn't support Facebook's vision of the future isn't just misleading, it's obnoxious. Facebook's zero rated ambitions don't operate in a vacuum; countless citizens, companies and organizations have spent years working to bring real Internet access to India's poor every day. Projects like the open source Freedombox, which manages to encourage connection to the actual Internet while simultaneously supporting concepts like encryption:
Offering a restrictive, curated version of the Internet over last-generation, lagging telecom infrastructure isn't a revolution, it's a stage play. About the only thing Facebook's supplying here that could be of use to India's poor farmers is Zuckerberg's seemingly inexhaustible supply of manure.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:38am

    "There aren’t even any ads in the version of Facebook in Free Basics."

    This doesn't mean they aren't collecting personal information that can be later used to target ads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:32am

      Re:

      Lets put some quotes on what Zuckerberg is doing:
      "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past"
      - George Orwell, "1984" - Ideology of IngSoc

      And how he stands to profit from it:
      "Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility."
      - Robin Morgan

      As much as Zuckerberg is trying to paint his opponents on this issue as dimwits and morally repulsive, his willingness to skirt on answering the specific concerns presented to him is causing objective readers to see his finger do a 180.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:43am

      Re:

      > This doesn't mean they aren't collecting personal
      > information that can be later used to target ads.


      Just because Facebook is collecting personal information do not assume that Facebook intends to use it to target ads.

      Also do not assume that personal information cannot be used to improve the calculations of whose organs are most profitable to harvest first.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:43am

    Kudos to Freedombox for offering an alternative rather than mere criticism. The FSF has a bias on telling you what you ought not to do rather than what you can do instead. The latter approach seems to be more useful long-term.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:45am

    Mark Zuckerberg gives truth to the saying
    "You can tell those people who are having good done unto them by the haunted look in their eyes".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:51am

    So grocery stores for Hollywood and farms for Facebook. What's next, hookers for Tinder or something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jlaprise (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:59am

    Half a loaf...

    With 80%+ of the Indian population unconnected, any solution(s) to help them get online is welcome, walled garden or not.

    My biggest complaint about this whole discussion is that for the most part support and opposition to Free Basics is voiced by people who already have Internet access. The people I've spoken to who want access and don't have it largely don't care about the issues that the rest of us talk about. We're talking about it as a luxury or a right (down) to people who don't have it at all.

    I'm a fan of a more the merrier plan. Let everyone try to expand access.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:43am

      Re: Half a loaf...

      Monsanto seeds, but What if that half loaf includes the ability to buy Monsanto seeds, but not those for sale from a farmer in the next village? That is the problem with walled gardens, they steer people to the benefit of the garden owner and not its users.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:01am

      Re: Half a loaf...

      It is quite a devilfish to swallow: If Facebook gets to do it, so does everyone. As soon as everyone does it, it will matter what ISP you use for what information you find and how it is presented to you. Thus ISPs by virtue of cooperating with an access limiting entity (Facebook here) will inevitably strenghten the call for censoring the internet.

      While spreading the internet is admirable, the effects on the rest of the internet from free-rating and therefore us with access is very unfavourable. I would rather have it done right instead of introducing these gatekeepers and thereby a clear target for autocrats or aspiring cleptocrats to manipulate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:59am

      Re: Half a loaf...

      Yea, the start of a good ole bait and switch if you think about it.

      Remember the movie Kingsmen? While I don't think there is any chance that people are going to be mind controlled, there is a serious question of what is Zuckerberg getting out of this?

      You know as well as I do, nothing is free and guess what... the piper will be coming to call one way or another. If we follow your logic through to its natural course then you could eventually agree to reinstating slavery for people that have nothing so long as 1. the slaves are feed their 3 square meals a day 2. have shelter 3. have clothing.

      Sadly it it just to easy to control a population when YOU are the one that gets to pick and choose what information comes and goes! And that... is just pure fucking evil!

      It is better to be without any information than to only receive wrong, bad, or subversive information!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Half a loaf...

      With 80%+ of the Indian population unconnected, any solution(s) to help them get online is welcome, walled garden or not.

      "With XX%+ of the population unemployed, any solution(s) to help get them working is welcome, slavery or not" has kind of a similar ring to it.

      Furthermore, presenting a walled garden as "the internet" is fraudulent. Fraud is not welcome.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:04am

    Zuckerberg...

    He should be the poster boy for the democratic party... constantly saying how much he cares for the poor while butt fucking them mercilessly, while the clueless poor just keep right on believing him!

    There is a reason they need ignorant and uneducated minorities! Not very many other are ignorant or stupid enough for vote for them! Then again more than enough buy the words of the corrupt republican party as well! Paul Ryan anyone?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sumo, 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:17am

      Re: Zuckerberg...

      Congrats on posting the most idiotic comment of them all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re: Zuckerberg...

        That's it? You got nothing better than that? You must be Zuckerberg shill then...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 1:02pm

          Re: Re: Re: Zuckerberg...

          How bout, go take your racist claptrap over to somewhere it's appreciated like WND?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 1:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Zuckerberg...

            Racist? How?
            How? is it racist to tell the poor that people like Zuckerberg and the Super Rich in the Democratic Party are fooling them with lies and deceit?

            Since when did "poor" or "minority" become a race? Or did you fail English in grade school? I am betting you failed English... No that's right... shut down the argument by spewing bigotry... the good ole leftist standby against an argument you cannot win! Call them racist, xenophobe, homophobic, SOMETHINGPHOBIC!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Almost Anonymous (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 11:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Zuckerberg...

            Yeah, I hate to agree with hothead, but nothing he said indicates racism to me.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    zero, 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:18am

    This "with us or against us-and-poor-people" tactic FB is using is perfect. And by that I mean a perfect example of why not to trust them or any entity that presents and distills such complex issues in one of two decisions. Similar to the 2004 presidential election giant douche-turd sandwich dynamic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Adam, 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:26am

    books

    fb misses that they didn't help Ganesh, the access to content did... such content might be found in a book for example but ANY net access would have provided the same thing with or without fb's name on it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:44am

    A better headline would be . . .

    If You Oppose Our Exploitation Of The Poor, You're An Enemy Of The Poor

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:45am

    "Offering a restrictive, curated version of the Internet over last-generation, lagging telecom infrastructure isn't a revolution, "

    When they have absolutely nothing, something IS a revolution. It may mean nothing to you in your comparative ivory tower of high speed internet and such, but for them, it's likely a big deal.

    Is it the best solution? Of course not. The restrictive nature is horrible, and shows FB in a very poor light. But for the end recipients who will have something way better than the nothing they had before, let's consider that it is still a revolution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Brent Ashley (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:49am

    504: Bad Gateway

    Once you get them hooked on freebasicing, it's only a matter of time before they slingshot to methenger.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    websitepromotie (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 3:53pm

    Ganesh the farmer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 4:03pm

    Mike Masnick is going to be upset that his hero is being insulted here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 5:55am

    Bad move.

    Does Mr. Zuckerberg really expect to convince people with this unpersuasive argumentation...?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 7:43am

    This is one reason valid reason to be cautious as to how his 99% donation will be used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Deserttrek, 29 Dec 2015 @ 11:13am

    zuckerberg should join isis .. he has the same power hungry mindset

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mrsizer, 29 Dec 2015 @ 1:22pm

    How is this not AOL?

    This sounds like AOL in the US when everyone was using dial-up. I don't see the big deal about it. When something better comes along, switch. Meanwhile, you have something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 1:31pm

      Re: How is this not AOL?

      AOL was a paid for service, this is a free service. Further the Internet has advanced to where if people can set up their own sites they can start their own businesses, which is more difficult to do with a curated web. Curation will likely benefit the big corporations at the expense of small companies and start ups.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Forest_GS, 29 Dec 2015 @ 5:52pm

    ...

    I'm as against giving a few people power to decide what is on the open web as anyone else on here....

    But a free internet service...I just feel they have no obligation to act as utility dumb pips like the $100+ internet services should.

    I'm sure someone will try and use this as a case study or something saying walled gardens on paid services are "ok", but we really don't have a leg to stand on to fight it while it's free.

    As long as a paid version without the walled garden aspect of offered, it should be fine. If not, that is a leg we can stand on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2016 @ 4:15pm

    Shitbook will have a slow death.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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