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Indian firms back out of Facebook's free internet program

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Facebook's Internet.org effort is supposed to democratize the internet by providing free access to key websites, but some Indian companies don't think it's quite so altruistic -- and they want out. Cleartrip, NewsHunt, NDTV and the Times Group have all announced that they're withdrawing some or all of their sites from Internet.org because they believe it violates net neutrality. They argue that Facebook's program unfairly favors certain sites over others -- why should it cost you to use some sites, and not others? As the Times Group explains, a site shouldn't be punished for taking a "principled stand."

There are still numerous services involved, such as AccuWeather and Reuters Market Lite. However, these departures are definitely going to be noticeable -- both for users and for Facebook, whose reputation is taking a bruising. The move could have other sites thinking twice about signing up, and may pressure Facebook into changing its strategy.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.]

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