Facebook’s Free Basics—an app that provides people in certain countries around the world free access to a subset of the web—has never sat quite right to me, but I’ve never taken the time to dig in deeply myself.
Thankfully, it looks like the folks at Global Voices did. There’s a 36-page PDF report available detailing their findings, as well as several country-specific reports. Their key findings certainly don’t make me feel any better about the app:
Free Basics might not speak your language: Free Basics does not meet the linguistic needs of target users.
Free Basics features little local content, but plenty of corporate services from the US and UK.
Free Basics doesn’t connect you to the global internet – but it does collect your data…
Free Basics violates net neutrality principles: Free Basics does not allow users to browse the open Internet.
Global Voices research findings suggest that most of the content offered via Free Basics will not meet the most pressing needs of those who are not online, and that the data and content limitations built into Free Basics are largely artificial and primarily aimed at collecting profitable data from users.