Tuesday, September 29, 2015

FB's #DigitalIndia "compromised" net neutrality; "predetermined" questions posed to Modi at FB HQ

Screenshot of controversial Facebook source
By Our Representative
Independent IT buffs have come down heavily on what they claim to be Facebook's effort to compromise net neutrality by asking its IIndian clients to change their FB picture to support the #DigitalIndia campaign following FB founder Mark Zuckerberg's decision to do it after he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at FB headquarters in the US.
The buffs have said, by changing their Facebook profile pictures, many have “unknowingly given their vote to Internet.org”, a Facebook initiative. Internet.org brings on board 6 corporate giants, Samsung, Media Tec, Ericsson, Nokia, Opera Software, and Qualcomm, to offer free Internet services to developing nations.
The buffs have quoted the Hacker News to say that the HTML source code “slyly records” the approval to Internet.org once the profile picture is changed in the backdrop of #DitigalIndia tricolour.
The Facebook, however, has denied this. In a statement it has said, “There is absolutely no connection between updating your profile picture for digital India and Internet.org. An engineer mistakenly used the words 'Internet.org profile picture' as a shorthand name he chose for part of the code. But this product in no way connects to or registers support for Internet.org. We are changing the code today to eliminate any confusion.”
But IT buffs are not convinced. They say there is a hidden agenda of Zuckerberg i as by “ changing your DP you're not supporting a Digital India but @Facebook's internet.org initiative”, said Abhash Kumar, a social media marketing expert in a Facebook post, adding, “Facebook is counting and showing it to Indian gov as a support for Internet.org!”, adding one has only “look at the source code” to understand where things are moving.
Pratik Sinha, an Ahmedabad-based software engineer and a social activist, said in an article, following the Facebook Townhall event, where Modi answered a few questions, Zuckerberg and Modi “both updated their profile images to support Digital India”, and subsequently, many people visited facebook.com/supportidigitalindia to update their profile pictures in support of Digital India.” 
Pointing out that those who have background in software engineering could understand the issue pretty well, Sinha said, “In the source code, you would find an oddly named class “internetOrgProfilePicture__prideAvatar”. In India, inernet.org can be opened only on Reliance connections, not on any other other Internet service providers.
Comments Sinha, “The internet.org class name in a page which is supposedly to Support Digital India is not coincidental. If some of you are following internet activists on Twitter (like @nixxin) who are fighting the battle of net neutrality, you’d know that for yesterday’s PR event, Facebook paid for business class tickets and accommodation for journalists.”
Several Indian newspapers carried a tagline at the end of their articles they wrote from the Facebook headquarters. The tagline said, the writer was “on the invitation of Facebook which is paying for accommodation and travel.”
Sinha has also dug in out how, apart from the journalists who had been paid for, also turned up individuals who were asked to put “inane, pre-determined questions” to the Prime Minister at an Facebook event.
Sinha quoted executive director of CNET, Ian Sherr, who was covering the, as tweeting that “Questions from the audience are predetermined. So there’s that. $FB #Modiberg.”CNET is an American media website that publishes reviews, news, articles, blogs, podcasts and videos on technology and consumer electronics globally.
Then, Siri Srinivas who works for Guardian and is based in New York had the following comment to offer on Twitter: “Ah Facebook, flies in woman (from delhi) to ask Indian prime minister (who lives in delhi) about Indian women in Menlo Park.” Menlo Park, California is where the Facebook HQ is located.
Said Sinha, “The first question in the Facebook townhall went to Vir Kashyap. Surprise, Surprise. Vir Kashyap is the COO of Babajobs which is an internet.org partner.”

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