Facebook disagrees with Google-Verizon pact

By David Goldman, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- If Google and Verizon hope to get their joint policy proposal on Net neutrality through Congress, they'll have to go through Facebook first.

On Monday, the world's largest search company and the country's biggest wireless network announced their opinion that "wired" broadband Internet connections should be regulated differently than wireless networks and new Internet technologies. But on Wednesday, Facebook, the world's largest social network, offered an opposing point of view.

"Facebook continues to support principles of Net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks," said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes in a statement. "Preserving an open Internet that is accessible to innovators -- regardless of their size or wealth -- will promote a vibrant and competitive marketplace where consumers have ultimate control over the content and services delivered through their Internet connections."

The company declined to comment on the specifics of Google and Verizon's proposal, but Facebook's statement is clearly at odds with it.

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) and Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) argued that it would be improper for the Federal Communications Commission to apply the same rules on the mobile market as the wireline broadband market, since the wireless market is more competitive and rapidly changing.

In response to Facebook's comments, a Google spokeswoman said, "Google has taken a backseat to no one in its support for an open Internet. We are not saying this framework is perfect but we believe that a proposal that locks in key enforceable protections for consumers is preferable to no protection."

But there's a good reason why Facebook would be wary about signing onto the Google-Verizon proposal: Facebook's mobile user base is rapidly growing, with more than 150 million users connecting through phones.

Facebook says that people who connect to the social network on their mobile devices are twice as active than non-mobile users.

If certain legal content is able to be blocked or slowed on wireless networks, Facebook may not be able to deliver all of the varieties of its content to its users.

Facebook is just the latest Net neutrality advocate to shun the Google-Verizon proposal. A coalition called SaveTheInternet.com, which includes the Free Press, MoveOn.org, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and others, called it "attacking the Internet while claiming to preserve it."

"They are promising Net Neutrality only for a certain part of the Internet, one that they'll likely stop investing in," said the coalition in a statement. "[Under their proposal], corporations can pick and choose which sites people can easily view on their phones or any other Internet device using these networks."

Google and Verizon's proposal was designed to bring to an end a divisive argument on Net neutrality, but if anything, the arguments on both sides have only gotten more heated.  To top of page

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