The mirage of free internet offered by Facebook’s Internet.org and Airtel Zero.
Internet.org and Airtel Zero are services that are allowing users in the Global South to have access to the internet in ways that have not previously been possible, but this access comes at a price, as Mahesh Murthy aptly discussed in his blog post shown below (fascinating original here).
What users of these seemingly altruistic ventures are presented with is a carefully selected group of sites; a representation of the internet that is by no means representative of the whole experience.
These projects reveal an interesting act of translation; a selective, consciously curated translation of ‘online reality’ into a new, confined, and restrictive format.
But of course, the old Italian adage “traduttore traditore” , which roughly translated (ironically…) into ‘to translate is to betray’ applies aptly here. We see a translation of online reality into a new medium that has purposefully and consciously chosen to present the online experience in a certain manner which, due to the selective and purposefully limited nature of the venture, ultimately serves as a betrayal of the original experience. Continue reading