Technology

Facebook tests 'Discover' in Peru, a feature to help people access websites for free

It's a free service for reading news articles, and it was launched in partnership with Bitel, Claro, Entel and Movistar

the app Discover in a smartphone screen
Photo: Facebook/Courtesy
  • It will work through mobile web and Android app and allow users to visit any website in text format (without video, images, audio, and elements that require amounts of data);
  • In Peru, Discover is offering 10MB of free data to users each day. Each partner mobile operator determines the daily data allowance.

Facebook is testing a new connectivity app to help people who can’t afford to get online information. Discover is a free service for reading news articles and is currently available in Peru, where it’s in the initial testing phase. The app was launched in partnership with Bitel, Claro, Entel, and Movistar.

It will work through mobile web and Android app and allow users to visit any website in text format (without video, images, audio, and elements that require amounts of data). In Peru, Discover is offering 10MB of free data to users each day. Each partner mobile operator determines the daily data allowance.

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To enable people to browse the internet using free data, Facebook routes web traffic through the Discover proxy and temporarily decrypt it to remove video, audio, and other high-bandwidth content that is not supported. To support security, the information between Facebook’s servers and any device that supports HTTPS it’s encrypted where possible — even if the service being accessed runs only over HTTP. For websites that support HTTPS, a second certificate is used for traffic encrypted between our servers and the developers’.

“With Discover, we’re exploring ways to help people stay on the internet more consistently. Many internet users around the world remain under-connected, regularly dropping off the internet for some period of time when they exhaust their data balance. Discover is designed to help bridge these gaps and keep people connected until they can purchase data again. We’ll also be assessing how Discover can help people extend the use of their regular data balance and support internet adoption,” wrote Yoav Zeevi, Product Manager at Facebook, at the company tech blog.

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The app is the latest of a handful of internet connectivity efforts that Facebook has rolled out in recent years. The company maintains Internet.org, which offers unfettered access to dozens of websites in dozens of markets; and Express WiFi, which allows neighborhood stores to sell small sachet of internet plans to users, in India. Facebook has partnered with more than 10,000 merchants and stores in the country to sell these data plans.