NEW YORK–Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday disowned his colleagues’s controversial statement that Free Basics was same as colonialism, saying it was “deeply upsetting”.
Zuckerberg came down heavily on Facebook board member Marc Andreessen for his offensive tweet that created an uproar on the social media.
“I want to respond to Marc Andreessen’s comments about India yesterday. I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
“India has been personally important to me and Facebook. Early on in my thinking about our mission, I travelled to India and was inspired by the humanity, spirit and values of the people. It solidified my understanding that when all people have the power to share their experiences, the entire world will make progress,” he said.
Earlier, a tweet by Andreessen left many Indians lashing out against him on Facebook as well as on Twitter.
Andreessen wrote on Twitter: “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”
Although the tweet was subsequently deleted, the comment — made after India’s telecom watchdog the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said no to discriminatory pricing of data content — led to several Indians storming the social networking sites with angry reactions.
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook stands for helping to connect people and giving them voice to shape their own future.
“But to shape the future we need to understand the past. As our community in India has grown, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the need to understand India’s history and culture,” he posted.
“I’ve been inspired by how much progress India has made in building a strong nation and the largest democracy in the world, and I look forward to strengthening my connection to the country,” the 31-year-old billionaire added.
On Monday, TRAI said in a much-awaited regulatory order that “No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content.”
“No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content,” the watchdog added.
Reacting to the TRAI order, Facebook said it was “disappointed with the outcome”, but will continue its “efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the Internet”.
“While I am disappointed with the decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet,” Zuckerberg had posted on Facebook.