This week, Facebook released Discover, the latest take on its Free Basics “web for all” work. Available in Peru, Discover is a mobile web and Android app that provides users with a daily balance of free data from participating mobile operators. It’s meant to provide access to the internet after users exhaust their data allowances.
Facebook says it is especially important to keep people connected during the coronavirus pandemic. But in the past, its Free Basics initiatives haven’t always gone well. A successor to Facebook’s Internet.org service, Free Basics was pulled from several markets and criticized for violating net neutrality, among other things, because it originally allowed access to some sites but not others.
Facebook says it considered that feedback while building Discover. The new app treats all websites equally, and Facebook says personal browsing history is not used for things like targeted ads or friend suggestions. Facebook will encrypt info sent between its servers and any device that supports HTTPS. Discover only supports low-bandwidth traffic, so some content, like video and audio, is not supported.
In the coming weeks, Facebook plans to launch Discover in a few other countries, including Iraq, the Philippines and Thailand, where the product features are in beta-testing. For now, users in Peru can access Discover by visiting 0.discoverapp.com on any mobile web browser or by downloading the Discover app in the Google Play store.