Mark Zuckerburg visited IIT Delhi on 28th October 2015. His visit may very well be one of the most important highlights of its academic year. Mark is a youth icon for achieving so much in such little time and engineering students look up to him as no less than a demigod. He has achieved all the three things that every student and entrepreneur aspires to achieve, namely: fame, respect and money.
So, as expected tickets to his town hall event were hard to come by. Only one in six students were able to attend the event as even IIT Delhi’s Dogra hall was only able to accommodate about a thousand students. With a student population of over six thousand students, students were desperately trying to arrange for passes or exchange them for money.
Dressed in his signature round neck t-shirt and jeans. He looked like an average youngster but, indeed, he is the CEO of a 250 billion firm. There was clearly a gleam of excitement on the faces of students, a bit of curiosity and of course respect when the 31-year-old entrepreneur from Silicon Valley began speaking.
But, was there an ulterior motive rather than Mark’s vision of India becoming facebook’s biggest market. Facebook supports internet.org and for a long time, has been pushing for its implementation in India. Internet.org is about providing access to free internet but you can use the internet mainly to access facebook.com only. It violates net neutrality, according to which unrestricted access must be provided to all websites and access speeds must not be throttled down.
After facebook’s Digital India fiasco in which it injected a small script, wherein people who supported Digital India initiative online also unknowingly supported internet.org. According to the company spokesperson internet.org was a variable that the developer had used but seldom do developers use such complex variables. So clearly, Facebook had been caught red handed.
His visit to India may very well be to sugar coat internet.org and to persuade people to support internet.org so as to then seek approval from the telecom authority citing existing support for the same. But the fact remains that internet.org is just a marketing gimmick to hook more people to its platform and not about providing freer access to the internet.
Today’s youth is much more intelligent than Mark and his team perceives them to be, and students could clearly see that the townhall event that he announced with much fanfare and excitement was nothing but a marketing gimmick for the internet.org initiative. With no clear national framework on net neutrality, intenet.org may very well be a grey area that large corporations such as facebook exploit for their selfish motives.
By - Archit Aggarwal