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FB board member’s ‘colonial’ tweet on India sets off storm

Published Feb 11, 2016, 12:51 am IST
Updated Feb 11, 2016, 12:51 am IST
Facebook director calls ban on Free Basics anti-colonial and suicidal for Indians.
Member of Facebook's board of Director Marc Andreessen.
 Member of Facebook's board of Director Marc Andreessen.

New Delhi: Facebook board member and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen on Wednesday kicked off a controversy on the social media by suggesting that India’s decision to bar discriminatory tariffs for data services is an “anti-colonialist” idea, which he claimed proved “economically catastrophic” for the country.

“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?,” tweeted Mr Andreessen.


“Another in a long line of economically suicidal decisions made by the Indian government against its own citizens... Denying world’s poorest free partial Internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong,” he tweeted.

Many saw these tweets as implying that Free Basics is the same as colonialism, and  that Indians are destined for economic disaster by banning it.

Benedict Evans, Mr Andreessen’s partner at his venture capital firm,  too took to Twitter to vent out his anger against Trai for banning Facebook’s Free Basics.


He tweeted that Indians “also choose a government that said a 10-year wait to get a phone was good: showed how popular the system was.”

However, after uproar Mr Andreessen deleted his controversial tweets. “I apologise for any offence caused by my earlier tweet about Indian history and politics. I admire India and the Indian people enormously,” he tweeted later on.
He further said: “India is an amazing country with amazing people. Indian companies and people have had profoundly positive effect on the internet and world!”

“I now withdraw from all future discussions of Indian economics and politics, and leave them to people with more knowledge!,” he added.


But the drama was not over with the apology as Mr Andreessen blocked some of the people who were supporters of net neutrality, including investor Mahesh Murthy.

“Whoa, I made it to the Cool List of people blocked by @pmarca,” tweeted Mr Murthy. He had earlier tweeted “Now @facebook Board director @pmarca suggests being colonised was good for India & we should’ve let Fb do so :)”