The American newspaper ‘Wall Street Journal’ has revealed in a recent report that Meta (formerly Facebook) company is embezzling crores of rupees in the name of giving free access to its services to mobile users in poor countries. Everything is being done in partnership with local mobile companies.
It should be noted that since 2013, Facebook has entered into agreements with local mobile companies to provide free access to social media to mobile users in poor and developing countries.
These countries included many developing countries, including Pakistan and Indonesia, where mobile operators attracted consumers by announcing ‘free social media’ with great fanfare.
This strategy has been successful and today, just 9 years later, the number of social media users in these countries has multiplied.
Most users who use social media through mobile networks think that they are getting these services for free but the fact is that most of the mobile users are being charged ‘secretly’ for these services which are generally accepted. Millions of dollars a month.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Facebook’s internal documents and administrative emails as saying it was a software glitch that affected mobile users using data packages in poor countries.
This amount was deducted from the data packages and mobile loads of all these users so quietly that the users did not know about it till the balance / data was exhausted.
The Wall Street Journal also writes that in the fiscal year ending July 2021, Facebook collected 78 7.8 million (approximately 1.4 billion Pakistani rupees) per month from users in 22 poor countries, despite ‘free social media’.
Pakistan topped the list of countries cheated by Facebook, where it received 19 1.9 million (PKR 337.2 million) per month from mobile internet users.
The newspaper also claimed that the Facebook administration was aware of the glitch in its software and the problem created by it, but still it worked diligently and gave the impression that this problem could not be solved.
On the other hand, mobile phone operators in developing countries have also remained silent on the issue.
By default, when viewing Facebook in ‘free mode’ using a mobile service via a smartphone, the default option is to display only static images while videos do not play. However, if you want to watch the video, you have to use the data package, otherwise your mobile balance will be deducted.
Due to a malfunction in the backend and user interface of the Facebook app, the videos start playing despite being in ‘free mode’ which uses mobile data to show which is charged.
Meta (formerly Facebook) says the issue has been largely resolved, while an investigation is under way into when and how the issue began.