Facebook had partnered with telecom companies in developing countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines to render free access to Facebook. However, Facebook’s internal documents indicate that many customers are being charged for these services, which amount to millions of dollars per month. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, data charges are being taken from cellular network users which include Pakistani citizens due to a glitch in Facebook’s software. On the other hand, Facebook employees acknowledge that this is a problem.
Facebook Charges Pakistani Citizens in the name of free internet
According to an internal document of Facebook, despite the services being free, Facebook received $1.9 million per month from Pakistani customers, which is more than any other country. According to the report, Facebook was aware of this problem and failed to fix it for months and users using apps in free mode are being unexpectedly charged by local cellular carriers for accessing data.
In this regard, a Facebook employee wrote to the company back in October that charging people for services that are actually free “violates our principle of transparency”. The service, called Freebasics, is provided through meta-connectivity and is thought to provide users with “free access to communication tools, health information, educational resources, and other low-bandwidth services”. The service has been available since 2013 and by October 2021, more than 300 million people worldwide have used it.
Moreover according to the document, in the year ending July 2021, the charges levied on Facebook users by cellular carriers in more than two dozen countries were estimated to be around $7.8 million per month.