“Free basics” the new form of economic democracy offered in South Africa.
Facebook’s Free Basics is a repackaged internet.org, or in other words, its a system where Facebook specifies what parts of the internet are the most important and crucial to the internet users.Facebook’s free internet initiative is a new service which gives people free airtime while they access to Facebook application and a few dozen other selected websites providing informations about the healthcare, jobs, news…without any charge. “It’s a method for users who want to try out free basic services on the Internet, they can do it without any cost and then they can basically move up the ladder to paid services,” (Makelainen, 2015). This service was offered in specific countries specially in north Africa which has a population of more than 1 billion and where just about 120 million use the social network because of the few fixed Internet connections that lead to the which leads to a decrease of the Facebook.s original website, the data is expensive, smartphones are rare so most people use cheaper and less capable devices that are called feature phones that can’t run Facebook’s full mobile application. “This is one of the places where our next billion users are coming from.” (Mendelssohn, 2015). This free service that included selected health sites, weather forecasts, BBC, wikipedia and many others news sites, faced a lot of critics and specially from India since it favors and prioritize some online services over others, or because its offered for free while the others were not, so to be more specific the supporters of net neutrality argued that this strategy tend to divide the network users to two different parts, the one who have the free access and the ones who don’t have it. So is the FB’s free internet initiative is a form of colonization or economic democracy? Colonization is a process by which a central system of power dominates the surrounding land and its component. In this case, “free basics” is a a type of digital colonizations for many arguments.
First of all, the Facebook application which is supposed to be a way of communication between each others by reacting, likes, commenting, posting photos…is now introducing this free service by showing and describing the poverty and the technology unskilled to the internet.
Secondly, Facebook is showing itself to the poor people and specially in North Africa, as the master of technology where nothing works without it, and it is colonizing not only the community but other websites since users are not able to access to those websites if they don’t have a Facebook account.
Thirdly, although that the Free Basics Program provides controlled internet access to people in developing countries who have cellphones but without Wi-Fi, unfortunately it has also controlled the users minds and mentalities by determinating the endless Ads, news, events, that are shown at the screen and by specifying also its audience.
In addition to that, Facebook is gaining too much money from this service behind the scenes of acting as if they are helping people. Every account made on facebook is a benefit and gain, nevertheless every post or update a person does is profit. So what about billions of people joining Facebook?
To conclude, free basics was published in more than one country. But this program was published in English language only which makes a barrier for not english speaking users from using this program. To exemplify, in Kenya there is three languages but this program is offered in English, so not all people can use it. After showing the benefits of this program, that are mainly related to face book, it is clear that this program is a type of colonization. Free basics is an introduction for poor people to internet, but this introduction benefits the founder only. As a conclusion, face book through this program introduces itself to the poor people as the whole internet, but this program can reach its goals in different and more beneficial way.