How India Pierced Facebook’s Free Internet Program

The inside story of Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to gift data to a skeptical subcontinent.

Lauren Smiley
Feb 1, 2016 · Unlisted
Hoping Indians ‘like’ it: a Free Basics billboard in Mumbai, during and after the campaign
An ad for Free Basics in Bangalore, featuring a moon-walking glove hand
The old-school post: Zuckerberg’s op-ed in the Times of India on December 28
Facebook-ville? More ads in the Bandra district of Mumbai

The Defenders

A video promo for Free Basics. Hayride, y’all!

The Opponents

A rare IRL convening: SaveTheInternet.in volunteers (from left) Kiran Jonnalagadda and Karthik Balakrishnan of HasGeek; Amod Malviya, former CTO of Flipkart; and Aravind Ravi-Sulekha, founder of Hey, Neighbor!

The Users

A Reliance franchise in Bangalore, and an ad on Reliance’s website for Free Basics.
Marketing for Free Basics or outlaw rally

More Reading on Free Basics:

Backchannel

Mining the tech world for lively and meaningful tales and…

Unlisted

Backchannel

Mining the tech world for lively and meaningful tales and analysis.

Lauren Smiley

Written by

San Francisco journalist studying humans in the Tech Age. For WIRED, California Sunday, and San Francisco Magazine. Alum of Matter and Backchannel.

Backchannel

Mining the tech world for lively and meaningful tales and analysis.