Last year, Facebook launched a program called Discover, which builds on its Free Basics internet access service.
The program provides users in some countries with a daily amount of free data to access any website through the mobile web and Android application.
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Discover simplifies web pages by running them through a proxy server. It removes video and audio clips, as well as some photos.
However, indicate a sheet New to Discover prefers Facebook and Instagram.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the University of the Philippines studied how the service delivered content from popular websites.
The study was conducted last summer in the Philippines, a country with a high level of Internet use.
The researchers found that Discover displayed Facebook and Instagram almost completely with their features. Other sites become disabled or difficult to use.
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The messaging did not work on Instagram, but on Facebook. The images appeared across Facebook and Instagram, while most or all of the images were redacted from every other site, the researchers wrote. On a few sites, the images appeared only for advertisements.
According to the research paper, Facebook was fully functional, as were Google, the Philippine Department of Education website, the job portal Jobstreet and the World Health Organization website.
Instagram, YouTube and Yahoo were among the sites listed as semi-functional. Netflix, Twitter and Roblox did not work.
It was not possible to create accounts or log into some sites. This is partly because Discover often blocks images in CAPTCHAs.
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Facebook prefers its services:
Facebook said it did not mean to favor its services. She attributed this to a technical error that she said had been resolved. She noted that it is impossible to verify that each site is rendering correctly through Discover due to the large size.
She added: There was a proxy error in the Discover app that resulted in inconsistent image loading across many websites with images that include an HTTP redirect. This was a technical bug that has since been resolved and a proxy is being created for all websites as intended.
Regardless of whether Facebook’s preference for its services is intentional, advocates of net neutrality have a similar problem with Discover as those who have suggested the company uses it to increase the number of Facebook and Instagram users in developing countries.
India banned Free Basics in 2016 over concerns about net neutrality. Egypt followed suit shortly after when Facebook refused to enable government monitoring through the service.
Free Basics was criticized by organizations in 2017 for failing to function properly in multilingual countries and supporting only a limited set of websites.
Users were not able to access services and local information that might be most useful to them.
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