Although under fire in India, Facebook launched internet.org in Indonesia through a partnership with Indonesia’s PT Indosat. Being a country with 250 million population, internet.org’s launch in Indonesia marked its second largest launch in Asia.
In Indonesia, Facebook’s internet.org will provide free access to internet, to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers. The websites that are offered free include, Ask.com, Wikipedia, Merdeka.com, KapanLagi, Bola.net, Kerlase, Accuweather, Wattpad, Jobstreet, Olx, Tokopedia, BabyCenter, Mama, Girl Effects and UNICEF’s Facts for Life.
The services, which are accessible via internet.org app or www.internet.org, are available in English and Bahasa Indonesia. “In all of the markets that we operate in, we are passionate about the benefits of connectivity and are always exploring new ways to help bring more people into the digital economy. This partnership will contribute to bringing more of Indonesia’s communities online and help people to achieve their aspirations for a better tomorrow,” said Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group CEO of Ooredoo, which owns Indosat.
When launched in India during February, it came under scrutiny for violating net neutrality along with Airtel’s Zero, a similar platform. The initiative lost few of its partnerships, including Cleartrip and NDTV.
According to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg, this platform is a novel way to provide internet to those who cannot connect to internet due to infrastructural or financial reasons. “Some connectivity is better than nothing,” said Zuckerburg as a response to the debates on net neutrality in India.
Several arguments point out that such free access initiatives will enter gatekeeping for the websites which are not associated with these free-access platforms.