Connectivity with Strings Attached: The Hidden Cost of Free Internet in African Countries. The Case of Facebook’s Free Basics

ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on Free Basics, a Facebook-developed mobile app that provides “free” Internet access to many African countries. However, this humanitarian initiative came at a hidden cost: lack of data protection for its users. This paper debunks Facebook’s win-win narrative arguing that the type of internet connection African users are connected to, and who gains from it, also matters.