Facebook trials Free Basics-based ‘Discover’, offers free browsing with some limitations

Facebook is conducting the trial of Discover in Peru for now. Discover supports low bandwidth browsing with no support for audio and video.

| Updated on: Aug 20 2022, 20:49 IST
Facebook introduces Discover
Facebook introduces Discover (REUTERS)
Facebook introduces Discover
Facebook introduces Discover (REUTERS)

Facebook on Tuesday announced trial of a new application called "Discover" which focuses on allowing users browse any website using "a daily balance of free data" from participating mobile operators. The application builds on Facebook's Free Basics which had to be rolled back in countries like India due to the net neutrality concerns.

With Discover, Facebook said that the app treats all the websites equally. It also clarified that participating mobile operators aren't paid for giving free data for Discover.

Facebook is conducting the trial in Peru and plans to extend to other markets such as Thailand, Philippines, and Iraq.

"As we've continued our work on Free Basics, we've listened to feedback and recommendations from civil society groups and other stakeholders, including organizations like the World Wide Web Foundation. We developed Discover to address and incorporate those recommendations into a new product that supports connectivity," Yoav Zeevi, Product Manager wrote in a post.

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Facebook further explained that Discover supports only low-bandwidth traffic when it uses free data. The app doesn't support data-intensive elements such as video and audio. The Discover app will be available as an Android app and mobile web. Each day, users will get a notification about the balance of data from the participating mobile operator. Beta users can access the Discover mobile web by visiting 0.discoverapp.com

A preview of Facebook's upcoming Discover application
A preview of Facebook's upcoming Discover application (Facebook)
image caption
A preview of Facebook's upcoming Discover application (Facebook)

For security, Facebook said it encrypts information data between its servers and any device that supports HTTPS where possible. To allow users browse the internet using free data, Facebook "routes web traffic through the Discover proxy and temporarily decrypt it to remove video, audio, and other high-bandwidth content that is not supported."

Facebook added that it doesn't store users' browsing history in connection with them and the browsing activity isn't used for other purposes such as targeted advertisements or adding new friends.

"With Discover, we're exploring ways to help people stay on the internet more consistently. Many internet users around the world remain underconnected, regularly dropping off the internet for some period of time when they exhaust their data balance. Discover is designed to help bridge these gaps and keep people connected until they can purchase data again. We'll also be assessing how Discover can help people extend use of their regular data balance and support internet adoption," Zeevi added.

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First Published Date: 06 May, 12:05 IST
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