Facebook is testing a new app to bring free internet access to developing countries. The social media platform is running the first trial in Peru, but it plans to launch in a number of other countries in the future.
Facebook Brings ‘Free Internet’
The app, known as Discover, provides users with about 20MB free browsing data provided every day by several mobile partners. According to CNET, Discover only provides low-bandwidth browsing.
It is a good initiative that will help a lot of us quickly get information online without the fear of the dreaded ‘Dear Customer, Your Daily Data is Below 2MB’.
This means you can load text on a website but not video, audio, or other data-intensive elements. To stream, you will need to purchase additional data to do so. Facebook claims the app doesn’t collect users’ browsing histories “in connection with them”.
You don’t need a Facebook account to use Discover. It also does not store users’ activity to target Facebook ads.
This Is Not Their First Rodeo
Discover appears to be a take two of Facebook’s Free Basics initiative. This initiative was aimed at providing internet access to regions with low connectivity. That service allowed subscribers on supported phones to visit select websites without paying for the data usage. Including BBC News, Wikipedia, Bing and of course, Facebook and Messenger). However, it was banned in India in 2016.
After a lengthy battle, the country’s telecom authority ruled that the program favoured some internet services over others. Thus violated the principles of net neutrality. Discover, which doesn’t discriminate between websites, would be more compliant with that standard (though Facebook’s blog post does not mention India as a potential trial country).