Is Facebook attempting to rationalize Internet.org in India with $21 million ‘benefits’ from FbStart?
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Photo Credit: FbStart

It seems that Facebook is trying to counter the intense negativity it received from their Internet.org program by dolling out ‘benefits’ to Indian startups

Trak.in

“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” – Popular Corporate adage

In a blog post published on Tuesday, Facebook has shared that FbStart, their one-year-old program to help early stage mobile app developers, has released more than $50 million as benefits to mobile startups based in the Asia Pacific region.

As per Facebook, 70% of Facebook developers are based outside the U.S., and out of the $50 million, $21 million (Rs 130 crore) has been provided to Indian mobile startups. As part of FbStart initiatives, they conducted events in London, New York, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea last month, and full-day events are happening this week in Bangalore and Gurgaon to create more awareness about their unique program.

Two Indian mobile startups were also mentioned in another blog post, which have taken the benefits of this program:

– CardBack is a Delhi-based mobile startup which helps users in managing their digital wallets, credit, and debit cards.

– Samosa is a Hyderabad-based mobile startup that provides curated clips from movies and enables sharing within their platform.

Facebook announced that 75% of all top grossing apps are integrated with Facebook right now.

As part of FbStart program, selected early stage mobile startups are provided with software and tools worth $80,000 under the ‘accelerate companies’ track and $30,000 under the ‘bootstrap companies’ track.

As per their blog post, around 1,000 Indian mobile startups are already part of their FbStart program. Overall, benefits worth $100 million have been provided to 3,800 participating startups globally.

So far so good. We appreciate and acknowledge their contribution to the Indian startup ecosystem, and helping companies to expand and grow.

But linking their startup initiatives with Internet.org program is a big mistake, and it effectively negates any good work done.

Facebook Strategic Partnerships Director Ime Archibong said, “I’m incredibly excited to be back in India this week. There’s an amazing opportunity for Indian-based developers to work with Facebook to grow their businesses, and we are doubling down on our investment in the country through programs like FbStart and the Internet.org Platform.”

Why relating FbStart with Internet.org is evil

At first glance, it seems that Facebook is trying to counter the intense negativity it received from their Internet.org program by dolling out ‘benefits’ to Indian startups. Via Internet.org, Facebook is attempting to form a massive ‘closed’ platform which will give free access to few websites and apps, and will act like a gatekeeper for the rest of the web.

While the motive of Internet.org is fairly noble – to enable everyone basic Internet access – the ideology of providing access to few selected websites goes against the principles of Net Neutrality. The end-user will be trapped between the choices and options that Facebook provides its users, hence, they are basically controlling what we can surf and click.

After the huge social media backlash, Times Group, NDTV, NewsHunt, and Cleartrip have withdrawn from the Internet.org project. TRAI has already declared that Internet.org is against Net Neutrality principles, with MTNL supporting this decision.

We had earlier presented five reasons that show that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are trying to control the Internet with their Internet.org project, and why we should not let them do this.

All we can say right now is, Facebook should help early stage mobile startups without any agenda of relating it with the Internet.org project. Connecting the whole startup revolution with Internet.org makes it appear like a desperate attempt to ‘buy’ support through indirect means.

Free lunches should not be used for propagating an ‘evil’ agenda, regardless how expensive that lunch is.

This post was originally published on Trak.in

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Mohul Ghosh

About Mohul Ghosh


Mohul manages Digital Marketing at Indian School of Business & Finance in New Delhi and keenly follows areas of Social Media, e-Marketing, Startups & Entrepreneurship in India. You can follow him on twitter @_mohul

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