Net Neutrality

Andreessen Facepalms on Facebook Free Basics

Silicon Valley investor and Twitter gadfly Marc Andreessen joined the discussion about Facebook's Free Basics program this week -- and then promptly put his foot in his mouth.

Facebook offered Internet access for free in India, limited to content offered by Facebook itself and its partners. Indian regulators effectively blocked the program recently, when it affirmed net neutrality rules in the country. (See India Deals Death Blow to Facebook's Free Basics .)

Andreessen, a partner at venture investors Andreessen Horowitz and member of the Facebook board, fired a broadside when he posted:

Defenders of the Indian decision said Facebook didn't have a right to step in and decide what should be free and what should be paid.

Some said Free Basics was the latest iteration of imperialism, and compared it to the 19th Century doctrine of the "white man's burden," according to CNN.

That's when Andreessen went too far: "Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?" he tweeted.

Twitter exploded.

Andreessen deleted the tweet and apologized.

Later, he retweeted this comment:

And then:

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

Mitch Wagner 2/19/2016 | 2:48:01 PM
Re: Zuckerberg responds It's an old strategy in politics: Claim the moral high ground. 
kq4ym 2/19/2016 | 11:47:28 AM
Re: Zuckerberg responds Almost sounds like Trumps strategy? Attack the opposition and make it their fault. The Free Basics idea and the resistance by India almost has turned into a school yard bully scenario. At least India owns the schoolyard and can make the rules.
danielcawrey 2/12/2016 | 2:35:07 PM
Re: Zuckerberg responds I understand the crisicism of Free Basics. It turns the internet into a free online service for Facebook. It's not really the internet, and there needs to be clear wording that explains there is a difference.

In the U.S. we have the luxury of great and mostly ungated internet access. it's unfortunate that in some places this is simply not possible. 
mendyk 2/11/2016 | 3:03:28 PM
Re: Zuckerberg responds I wonder if Mr. Z. will touch on this subject in his ninth annual MWC keynote address...
Mitch Wagner 2/11/2016 | 2:33:34 PM
Re: Zuckerberg responds An argument for Free Basics as colonialism. 

Or rather six arguments:

1. ride in like the savior

2. bandy about words like equality, democracy, basic rights

3. mask the long-term profit motive (see 2 above)

4. justify the logic of partial dissemination as better than nothing

5. partner with local elites and vested interests

6. accuse the critics of ingratitude


mendyk 2/11/2016 | 11:42:10 AM
Re: Zuckerberg responds Colonialism doesn't have to be geographic. Social and economic colonies can exist anywhere. There may not have been an objection -- or at least less of an objection -- if this "program" were labeled honestly: free access to Facebook and its allies. Instead, it was presented under the guise of free Internet access, which it is not.
Mitch Wagner 2/11/2016 | 11:11:17 AM
Re: Zuckerberg responds What makes this colonialism? Just because a Western country is doing it in India?
mendyk 2/11/2016 | 8:50:29 AM
Re: Zuckerberg responds Does Mr. Z. find digital colonialism deeply upsetting as well? He may in fact aspire to altruism, but he could use some mentoring.
Mitch Wagner 2/10/2016 | 7:56:34 PM
Zuckerberg responds Mark Zuckerberg found the comments "deeply upsetting," he said in a post on Facebook. 
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