Making a living off of social media doesn’t make you immune to posting stupid things, as Facebook board member Marc Andreessen has learned as he spent Wednesday afternoon apologizing for a series of tweets seemingly supporting British colonialism in India.
Facebook’s “Free Basics” plan to give some of the world’s poorest people free access to bare bones versions of popular websites (like Facebook) was always criticized as more of a cash grab than altruistic act. And India, where 1.25 billion people would have benefitted from the program, showed us just how unpopular it was Tuesday when it flatly refused the offer.
Andreessen thought that India was only denying it because India’s telecommunications industry wanted to keep free internet out of the hands of poor people. And while there’s a legitimate argument to be made that the good (free internet and the knowledge and service that comes with it) would outweigh the bad (a hand-picked list of approved sites) — which is essentially what the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said Facebook was doing — that’s not the tact Andreessen took on Twitter. Here’s the now-deleted post:
Good grief, Marc.
On Wednesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg expressed his displeasure with a post that, among other points, expressed that he was “deeply upset:”
That seemingly inspired this Andreesen Tweet-storm:
Since an ultra wealthy white man telling India’s government that they don’t know what’s best for their own people is something the country is thoroughly well fed up with, it’s not surprising that Andreessen’s remarks went over so poorly.
Despite Andreessen’s mea culpa, at least some members of his tech venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz are still unapologetically defending his message.
Marc, if Balaji says he wants to hold a football for you, just walk away.