Free Basics

Facebook's initiative — through which the social networking giant provides a set of essential internet-based services for free — came under criticism last year over net neutrality concerns. Those in opposition of the initiative said that the services included with would gain an unfair advantage over competing services that would not be accessible for free. Facebook has addressed those issues shortly thereafter, stating that Free Basics will be an open platform, and that anyone can make their service available for free.

The second big change is support for HTTPS, along with end-to-end encryption for the website wherever possible. The Android app already comes with end-to-end encryption. The app as well as website now offer access to over 250 services in 19 countries around the world, with 60 new services added to the platform. For those residing in India, the service is only accessible if you're a Reliance subscriber, although Facebook has mentioned that it is working with other carriers to make Free Basics available to a wider audience.

Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes, stating:

We want to make it clear that the apps you can use through are free, basic services that can give you access to essential resources like BabyCenter.

Connectivity isn't an end in itself. It's what people do with it that matters -- like raising a healthy family. We hope the improvements we've made today help even more people get connected -- so that our whole global community can benefit together.

Source: Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg)