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Facebook reportedly wants to give 'free' internet to US

The social network is in talks with government officials and wireless carriers about a Free Basics service in the US, reports The Washington Post.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said to be eyeing the US for its Free Basics internet service.
James Martin/CNET

Facebook may have a new country in its sights for its controversial free-internet plan.

The social media giant is in talks with US government officials and wireless carriers about bringing its Free Basics service to millions of people in the US, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The company is reportedly moving cautiously on the initiative to avoid the regulatory scrutiny that derailed the project in India earlier this year.

"While we have nothing to announce, Facebook's mission is to connect the world and we're always exploring ways to do that, including in the United States," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Launched in 2014, Free Basics aims to provide a limited number of internet sites and services for free to areas of the world where online access is unavailable or virtually nonexistent. The service, which is available in 36 countries, has been one way for Facebook to spread its influence in areas such as Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The company has been criticized for deciding what type of content would be offered and for potentially giving preferential treatment to certain websites. That has raised concerns about whether the service violates the principles of Net neutrality, the idea all types of content and services be treated equally on the internet.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. with Facebook comment.