Facebook has just 24 hours to find the 11 million people it says support Free Basics in India

Facebook has just 24 hours to find the 11 million people it says support Free Basics in India
Credit: Facebook

The Indian regulator consulting on the future of services like Free Basics has released an update outlining its communications with Facebook in the last two weeks around the social network’s campaign to gather support from users.

The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) says it received 1.89 million autofilled responses from Facebook users but argues these are invalid unless it can get those people to answer the four specific questions asked in the consultation.

The regulator says 544,000 of those messages came from ‘facebookmail.com’ email accounts, while a further 1.35 million were from the ‘supportfreebasics.in’ domain.’

The latter of those were part of a ‘missed call’ campaign created by Facebook that aimed to reach people who are not already online.

In its response to an initial letter dated January 1, Facebook claims that some 11 million people actually contacted the TRAI about the campaign, so it’s unclear where the remaining 9 million responses ended up.

Although Facebook responded to this first communication and said it was unable to reach those it had initially contacted on mobile, the TRAI has sought clarification on this point, which has so far gone unmet.

The regulator says it has prepared a text message to send to these people requesting specific responses, but Facebook’s Director of Public Policy in the region Ankhi Das claims it is unable to reach them.

It has, however, sent emails to those people it does have contact details for.

The consultation closes tomorrow and the TRAI is clearly keen to ensure the voices of users, and potential users, of Free Basics are heard.

But that’s not much time to get detailed answers from 2 million, or 11 million people, on a telecoms consultation.

Free Basics only went live in India in November, but Facebook has so far seen a temporary ban on the service and had its tactics on the consultation criticized, with critics recently taking aim at Zuck himself.

TRAI [via Hacker News]

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