Dear Facebook, where's my freedom of choice?
published: (updated: )
by Harshvardhan J. Pandit
article privacy rant
If you, like me, are staying in India, or some other parts of the world labelled as third-world, backward, or lacking when it comes to Internet services, you must be seeing this obtrusive message about Facebook’s Internet.org missive. The problem with the whole thing is, it absolutely disrespects my right to an opinion, and instead looks to disregard any dissent I might have. Apart from the problems with Internet.og, namely the whole case of allowing access to only a few chosen sites that Facebook believes constitues to be basic internet, is the apparent ploy to market it as goodwill. It is akin to the free rations governments provide to poor people, albeit unlike these, Facebook would be proliferating businesses through free access. Users would have absolutely no choice in what services they use, and the argument that some services are better than nothing is a sham behind a lot of smoke. Some services chosen by vested interests are not better than nothing. If it truly was representative of a goodwill to bring internet to the people, it would have offered choice. Choice to change their search provider, choice to use some other site to buy things. Instead of doing a good thing, this is totally a business venture, where company A asks company B to promote its products for x% of profits (or something along those lines). In this case, they’re gettings more users, more coverage, and setting a dangerous precedent to the user of internet - that it’s ok to restrict access.
The problem with the so called opinion that Facebook is trying to gauge (as seen in the screenshot), is that it absolutely lacks any respect that I, as the user, might dissent with their idea of Internet.org. The only buttons shown on the message are Yes, I’m in, which would constitute my participation and support to the idea; and the other being Not now, which means that I will (probably) be bombarded with this question again in the future in the hope that I may agree then. Where’s the No, I disagree button, or even the option to disable any interest in Internet.org?
While it their (Facebook’s) right to use their social platform to further causes they are interested in, this kind of manipulative pesudo-support is not a good precedent. Say, 5 million people do click on the agree button, while others click on the not now button. Will there be any indication of how many people have decided to NOT support this movement? It is certainly subtle, a minor difference, but compared to the whole issue of Internet.org, this is one more misstep being promoted under the guide of ‘goodwill’ that irks me too much. There’s absolutely no links to what Internet.org is, or what it proposes. Everything is blanketed under the tag “Show your support for free basic online services”. Would you like to let your internet service providers, mobile operators, and pretty much all players involved in and around internet (the real internet) to dictate which sites and services are deemed basic and necessary in an internet connection?