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Facebook’s dream of connecting the whole world through Internet.org initiative is not going as well as they had expected when they started the project. In anything, Internet.org succeeded mainly in attracting criticism from many. Internet.org was then re-branded and is now being re-marketed as Free Basics. Free Basics provides mobile users with Free access for certain websites only for which Facebook collaborates with select mobile carriers of the respective country.
In a not so surprising move, for people who were already against the program, Egypt has at the moment Shut down the said service. In a statement given by Facebook to Associated Press, they said “We’re disappointed that Free Basics will no longer be available in Egypt. More than 1 million people who were previously unconnected had been using the Internet because of these efforts.“
Facebook had tied-up with Etisalat in Egypt, however, Associated Press says neither Egyptian officials nor Etisalat could be reached for a comment. So there is no clear reason as to why the services were halted all of a sudden. None of the parties involved has so far given any specific reason, except for a statement released by Facebook
Unfortunately for Facebook, Egypt is presently not the only country where they are putting immense efforts to push Free Basics service. There appears to be a never-ending debate, or rather argument, going on between Facebook and the people in India fighting for Net Neutrality. Only time will tell if the sudden shut down of Free Basics in Egypt would be a minor hurdle or a major setback for Facebook.