Facebook wants to offer free internet to the masses. And, mind you, it is not going to be part of the recent philanthropic initiative of its founder Zuckerburg. Facebook is leaving no stone unturned and spending billions of dollars on a major advertising campaign that aims to make the free Internet initiative successful in India. But activists and some leading experts in technology were crying foul and alleged that the free Internet initiative can result in Facebook monopolizing the Internet and kill competition.

So why is Facebook hellbent on making Internet.org a success even if it means spending billions of dollars as payments to telecom companies for free Internet access through their networks? India is the second biggest market for Facebook with a total user base of 130 million. As Facebook is banned in China, there is no other alternative market for the company to further expand its revenues. Many Indian customers do not have desktops and continuous supply of electricity. Hence, they mostly access Internet through their mobile phones.

On the other side of the coin, many businesses are making social networks like Facebook as a way to reach more number of customers. News websites and magazines can now publishing full length articles on Facebook. Similarly, Facebook wants to make it possible for companies to directly sell their goods and services through their Facebook pages. This initiative is supposed to attract small businesses who cannot afford to develop their own websites and apps for different mobile phone platforms. Simply put, Facebook wants to make itself indispensable for both consumers and businesses.

Free Internet from Facebook

By providing free Internet to the masses in India, Facebook can become the default homepage for people who cannot afford the high data charges. Even as Facebook is claiming to not advertise on Internet.org, it could make a lot of money by getting commissions from businesses who want to use it to reach customers. Moreover, Internet.org can increase the entry barriers for other Internet companies who want to compete with Facebook in future. Given the rise of mobile Internet and ecommerce in India in the recent past, the stakes are very high for Facebook.

Despite the relentless attempts by Facebook, there is a glimmer of hope. Egypt banned Facebook’s free Internet on December 30, 2015. Even though the exact reason for the same is not still clear, it might inspire other governments to ban Facebook’s Internet.org. Whether it was Microsoft and Google in the past and Facebook now, capitalism makes it possible for bigger companies to bend the rules. It is up to the governments to act.