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Facebook invites everyone inside its Internet.org walled garden

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Facebook is fighting back against accusations that its Internet.org initiative is trampling over the principles of net neutrality by giving any company the chance to offer its services for free on the platform. Critics have previously argued that Facebook would use Internet.org to funnel new users into its preferred services, but now the social network says that any company can sign up, so long as it follows certain technical guidelines to keep data consumption to a minimum.

Any company will be able to join internet.org

In a video announcing the news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains that the initial choice to offer only select services on Internet.org was a pragmatic one, as it was "not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free." He adds that Facebook does not place ads on Internet.org and companies do not pay to be included in the scheme.

"We had to start somewhere," says Zuckerberg. "So we launched first with partners who wanted to work with us on this mission to connect the world. But we'll work with anyone who wants to join us ... Soon we're going to share an open technical spec, and any compatible service will be available through Internet.org across the whole world. This will give people even more choice and more free services."

The launch of the Internet.org platform follows a growing debate in India as to whether the service will stifle competition. Companies pulled out of the initiative in protest, and in an editorial written for the Hindustan Times, Zuckerberg responded by saying that the principles of net neutrality are "not in conflict with working to get more people connected." He added: "If you can't afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access and voice than none at all."