Facebook free Internet glitches cause data charges of R119 million

Software bugs in Facebook’s “free” Internet service are costing people in developing nations, with carriers in these countries charging users around $7.8 million (R119 million) per month for a service that should not incur data charges.

According to an Engadget report, paid features have been appearing in Meta (formerly Facebook) Free Basics, even though they are supposed to remain hidden or warn users of data costs.

The scenario has been especially costly for users in Pakistan, with carriers in the country charging $1.9 million (R29 million) in one month.

A spokesperson for Meta said they were aware of the issue and that efforts to fix the glitch would continue.

They also said that the figure of $7.8 million (R119 million) was not based on carrier billing and was therefore inaccurate.

According to the spokesperson, the overcharges were closer to $3 million (R46 million).

Meta’s desire to push free Internet in these nations stems from the fact that most of its recent growth comes from people accessing the Internet for the first time.

While its free Internet service does not restrict users to only visiting Meta-owned platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, there is a good chance that they will sign up and stimulate the company’s growth further.

Meta is also facing concerns over its “Discover” feature, which is designed to allow users to browse text on any website without incurring data charges.

However, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company had been accused of pushing Discover users to its own content.

Now read: Google warns court ruling will force it to censor the Internet

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Facebook free Internet glitches cause data charges of R119 million