Facebook director Andreessen sorry for India Internet remarks

Published: February 11, 2016
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Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz Co-Founder and General Partner Marc Andreessen speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 28, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz Co-Founder and General Partner Marc Andreessen speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 28, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO: Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist and Facebook Inc board director, apologised on Wednesday for tweets that condemned the Indian government for banning the social media company’s free Internet service.

India introduced rules on Monday preventing Internet service providers from having different pricing policies for accessing different parts of the Web, effectively dismantling Facebook’s Free Basics programme, which offers a pared-back version of Internet service.

Facebook’s internet for all is a tough sell in India

Andreessen, who often takes to Twitter to offer his opinions, said the new rules denied India’s poor access to the Internet. Only 252 million out of India’s 1.3 billion people have Internet access.

“Denying world’s poorest free partial Internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong,” Andreessen wrote.

“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”

Facebook formally launches its limited-free internet service in Pakistan

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg condemned Andreessen’s Twitter outburst in a Facebook post on Wednesday. (on.fb.me/1TTbgL5)

“I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all,” Zuckerberg said, adding that India was “personally” important to him and the company.

Dozens of Twitter users blasted Andreessen for his comments, which he deleted and apologised for on Wednesday in eight tweets.

“I apologise for any offence my comment caused, and withdraw it in full and without reservation,” Andreessen wrote. “I will leave all future commentary on all of these topics to people with more knowledge and experience than me.”

Goal 2020: ‘Internet belongs to everyone’

Earlier this week, Zuckerberg said he was disappointed with the Indian ruling and said that the company was still “working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world.”

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