GD Topic - Facebook Free Basics- Pros and Cons

Published by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: February 16, 2016

6 people are having a discussion on the topic (Amy, Monica, Rhea, Veronica, Atlee & Wayne)

Category: Technology, Social

Group Discussion Starts

Amy: Good morning friends. Today we are here to discuss on the topic “Free Basics .Pros and Cons” Free basics is an initiative taken by Facebook to provide digital equality and free access to basic internet services across the world to those who cannot afford the internet data rates. It has chosen countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and some African countries with approximately 16+ countries which are backward still in utilising internet services.

Monica: Free basics connects the people with Education, jobs and opportunities online by providing access to minimum no.of websites required at a free of cost. It is for the welfare of the country. Many people in the villages get educated and connected with access to the technology and free internet services

Rhea: I contradict to the discussion, saying free basics works for the welfare of the country. Why facebook would suddenly recognised this issue. Why would it spend lots of money for ads for campaigning this program? Instead it could have used the money for some other purposes like sanitation and providing clean water etc.

Image: android-central

Veronica: I agree with u Rhea. Free basics is a new marketing strategy launched by facebook. It is the renewed version of (which is a partnership of facebook with Samsung, Nokia, Media tek, Opera soft wares, Erickson and Qualcomm) that was intended to increase the efficiency in less developed countries with affordable prices to a limited internet access. But here lies the trap that these big giants want to get hold of the websites and it acts as a gatekeeper to websites which allows only filtered websites

Atlee: It’s true Veronica. To get hold of selective app developers and soft wares Facebook is making deals with ISP providers .This is a hindrance to net neutrality. In a democratic country like India, Free basics will limit the no.of websites one can access.

Wayne: Yes, Why would Facebook target Indian users and ready to spend $100 million dollars to free basics? This is because in the world where there are 3billion internet users with 1 billion websites. Facebook and Google combined users were 1.5 billion. And the rest are mostly from the china and India. Facebook is banned in china. So, it cannot enter into that market. The remaining large market is India. There is a perception that Indian customers get more attracted towards the word “Free”. So, they re- launched with a new name Free basics.

Amy: At this point, I would like to say that with access to free basics, even common man gets the minimum internet facilities with affordable prices. A common man doesn’t require access to all the websites and even he can’t afford the cost of high data rates, he needs access to only specific information. Affordable internet facility is a basic human right.

Monica: Yes indeed, with up gradation of technology in our hands, we can be aware of natural calamities. And the internet facilities will be used by each and every common man. So that our country can achieve digital equality. And we can increase digital literacy of our country.

Rhea: But there are many loop holes in this initiative. This is why TRAI has sent notices to stop free basics by facebook which is done in partnership with reliance .Why would a company spend millions of rupees for welfare which is not mentioned as CSR activity. This is definitely to increase the user base of facebook and to gain profits in the future.

Veronica: It is true. In a country where people cannot meet a 2 square meal a day, what will he do by learning free basics? In a country where proper schools and colleges were not affordable and malnutrition is still a problem, how beneficial are these free basics? If they really want to contribute to the society there are many ways. They can provide nutritious food and education to children, they can provide potable clean water and they can provide employment opportunities.

Amy: Free basics works on zero rating principle. It means that they will not charge money for selected applications and specific websites. Mark Zuckerberg has taken this initiative to provide internet access to everyone.

Atlee: If they really want to provide internet facility to everyone there are many other options. For example, to provide a full flexed internet facility in a village with the help of routers it takes only 50,000.With the amount spend by facebook nearly one third of the villages in the country can be provided with proper internet facilities.

Wayne: Yes, I agree with you Atlee. Free basics will lead to monopoly. If the no.of users were increased then the data pricing and regulations will all be in their hands. It may also lead to another digital divide that connecting people what it promises. If this really happens, we have to pay the price in the future.

Rhea: Yes. In our country everyone has the right to net neutrality. This should not be restricted in the name of free basics. Telecom regulators have taken an appropriate decision by stopping this Initiative. There are many hidden cons one has to recognise in this game.

Rohan: Agreed. Tim Berners Lee- the scientist who invented the world wide web also said people should not encourage the free basics. This is because this will ultimately take the economy one step backwards. Rather than that net neutrality has to be established with the help of crowd sourcing funds to provide internet to poor people at lower fare.


Free basics –There are more disadvantages in the near future than the advantages provided by it immediately. If it is initiated it will be a hindrance to net neutrality and also it will also an obstacle to rising start-ups and new websites in our country. In precise Free basics is kind of a bus pass where one can travel to nearly 100 websites with free of cost and net neutrality is a bus which will take to a million websites. Free basics will limit the knowledge and access to all websites. Free basics is a pre-planned strategy to increase the user base and to become a monopoly in the digital world. So, free basics should not be encouraged

Facts related to the topic

• There are around 3 billion internet users worldwide and 1 billion websites. As per this ratio, one out of every three persons is a content creator and this network is lost in Free Basics.

• By just spending around Rs. 50,000, we can connect a whole village develop a network supporting free calling and other features

• 3.2 million people out of Facebook’s base of 130 million people who were repeatedly shown a misleading petition by Facebook on top of their pages clicked yes and submit, without being told both sides of the story, and thinking they were doing something for a noble cause, and not to further Facebook’s business strategy In US, The conversion rate is 4.55% in e-commerce whereas conversion rate is 2.46%. Whereas, conversion rate of Japan is 9.35%

• Facebook does produce revenue, about Rs. 12,000 crores worth globally.

This article has been researched & authored by the Content & Research Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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