Facebook board member Marc Andreessen offends a billion Indians with 1 tweet, following Free Basics ban
Venture capitalist and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen Getty Images

Marc Andreessen, one of Facebook's board of directors and among Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capitalists, posted a tweet on 10 February which kicked off a row in India. Facebook has since denounced Andreessen's opinion and said the company does not share his views.

The outcry following the tweet also compelled Andreessen to delete it and apologise. The contentious tweet was posted following the watchdog, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), banning Facebook's Free Basics service, a free but restricted internet service for the poor in India.

Andreessen's comment suggesting India had suffered economically for opposing colonial rule shocked many of his peers and many Indians. Not many were convinced by his retraction either.

The social network's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, attempted to distance Facebook from the tweet, saying: "I want to respond to Marc Andreessen's comments about India yesterday. I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all."

Andreessen's tweet provoked a major backlash in the Twitterverse.

Ban on Free Basics

For the past few months, India has been the hub of a debate over net neutrality, specifically Facebook's plan to offer free but restricted internet access to India's poor. The service would have provided access to Facebook and a few other sites approved by the social media company.

After Trai rejected Facebook's plan, India's net neutrality campaigners lauded the regulator. Kiran Jonnalagadda, a Save the Internet campaigner, told The Guardian: "This is great news. It is what this country needed and it took a lot of effort pushing for it. It took a lot moral fibre for TraiI to stand up to the telcos."