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Opponents of Facebook’s Internet.org suggest it compromises the principles of net neutrality, because it favours access to some sites and apps over others.

But Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said it was “not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free”. “But it is sustainable to build free basic services that are simpler, use less data and work on all low-end phones.”

Internet.org allows subscribers of partner mobile networks to use a limited number of online services without further charge. Networks operators participate because they believe users will pay for wider internet access once they have had a chance to try out the free content on offer.

Since 2014, the project has launched in Zambia, India, Colombia, Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines and Indonesia. Until now, the scheme had been typically limited to a few dozen services in each country.They include the Wikipedia encyclopaedia, the Facts for Life health site run by the United Nations Children’s Fund, BBC News, Facebook, Accuweather and a selection of local news and sports results providers.

But the project will now be widened to allow other developers to join what is being called the Internet.org Platform.

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