New Delhi : Times Group and NDTV are the latest big wigs that are pulling out of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative which makes apps on the platform free of data charges to users and pledged its support to net neutrality in the country.
Tactfully, TOI on Wednesday also appealed to rival publishers to jointly withdraw from the platform which violates net neutrality, or the notion that all Internet traffic must be treated as equal by Internet service providers.
“In the case of the group’s properties such as TimesJobs and Maharashtra Times, where its competitors are not on zero-rate platforms, these properties will pull out ofInternet.org,” the company said in a blogpost.
The Times of India (publication), will withdraw from Internet.org if its direct competitors – India Today, NDTV, IBNLive, NewsHunt, and BBC – also pull out, it said.
“We will lead the drive towards a neutral Internet, but we need our fellow publishers and content providers to do so as well, so that the playing field continues to be level,” said a Times official. Soon after, Delhi-based television network NDTV also said that it will pull out of Internet.org.
Journalist and NDTV co-founder Prannoy Roy tweeted: NDTV is committed to net neutrality & is exiting Facebook’s Internet.org. Update: NewsHunt has tweeted that it also withdrew from Internet.org last week.
“Our statement is a little conditional because we have competitors that are there. Our internal stance is that we won’t ever be first or only one to zero rate. But won’t take a position that hurts competitively…,” said a Times source.
Earlier yesterday, online travel search firm Cleartrip pulled out of Internet.org as well. The company said it realized that Internet.org has the potential to influence customer decision-making by forcing options on them. “We were neither paid anything, nor did we pay anything to participate. Additionally we don’t make any money out of that product,” said Cleartrip in a statement.
Nearly 40 services have signed up for Facebook’s Internet.org and are being urged by Internet activists to abandon the platform in favour of net neutrality. The latest exits will put the future of Internet.org, a mission promoted by Facebook and telecom companies, in jeopardy.
This move comes on heels of e-commerce major Flipkart pulling out of Airtel’s net neutrality violating platform Airtel Zero day before yesterday. Many Internet companies are expected to follow suit.