Facebook India MD to resign, but not over Free Basics failure

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 12, 2016, 7:24pm CST
Facebook India MD to resign, but not over Free Basics failure

Facebook India’s managing director Kirthiga Reddy is resigning, it has been announced. After she steps down, Reddy will return to the US and seek “new opportunities,” apparently planning to remain with the social network at its Menlo Park headquarters. A successor is currently being sought, with Reddy reportedly working with Facebook’s Asia Pacific managing director William Easton and Asia Pacific VP Dan Neary.

Reddy has worked with Facebook since 2010, having the distinction of being the social network’s first employee in India. She’ll be relocated back to the US in the next half-year to year, depending on when the successor is found and everything is ironed out. The move doesn’t appear to be related to the Free Basics failure in India, but comes very shortly after the nation rejected Facebook’s free — and limited — Internet service.

In a statement to Reuters, a Facebook spokesperson said:

As she had planned for some time, Kirthiga Reddy is moving back to the U.S. to work with the teams in Headquarters. During her time in India, Kirthiga was not involved in our Free Basic Services efforts.

Facebook has sought to enter a number of emerging markets through the Internet.org initiative, of which the Free Basics services was launched. Free Basics, for those unaware, is an Internet service that is limited to a select number of websites, including Facebook’s own. The services has rolled out in many countries, but has earned harsh criticism primarily concerning Net Neutrality.

The debate had been (and continues to be) a strong one, and though many argue the service is a good thing (better than nothing, the arguments tend to go), others say it has the long term potential of harming net neutrality and Internet infrastructures in developing nations. Such a concern motivated India to ultimately ban the service in December, something Facebook itself has criticized.

Facebook isn’t the only place that has banned Free Basics. Shortly after India’s decision, Egypt shut down the service, much to the surprise of many. Free Basics had been available in Egypt for a while, and was providing service to about three million people; Facebook had said a million or more of the users had never had Internet service before that.

Egypt was quiet about whatever concerns it must have had, as officials in the nation hadn’t previously expressed any deep concerns about the service, and hadn’t given advanced notice that Free Basics would be going dark. The free Internet service had operated for about two months before that.

SOURCE: Reuters

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