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End of Era: Vodacom Axes ‘Basic Mode’ Facebook Access

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In a move that has sparked widespread discussion, Vodacom has announced the termination of the ‘basic mode’ of Facebook on its network. This decision, effective from April 9, 2024, marks the end of a service that provided users with free access to Facebook’s core features without the need for a data plan.

The End of an Era

Image sourced from Shutterstock.

The Facebook Flex plan included ‘basic mode’, designed to keep users connected even in the absence of an internet connection or data. It allowed chatting, engagement with content, and a sense of digital inclusion for those who could not afford regular data charges. However, images and other media were not accessible in this mode.

Online publication MDN News initially made the announcement, leading to speculation that the deactivation was linked to Vodacom’s legal battle with Nkosana Makate, the inventor of the ‘Please Call Me’ concept. Who has sued the company for R29 billion. Social media users have expressed a range of reactions, from frustration over the loss of free access to support for Makate’s claim.

Implications for Digital Accessibility

The discontinuation of Facebook’s ‘basic mode’ raises questions about digital accessibility and the role of mobile operators in providing or restricting free services. While some users may view this as a cost-saving measure for Vodacom, others see it as a step back in efforts to bridge the digital divide.

As the dust settles on this decision, it remains to be seen how Vodacom’s user base will adapt to the change. Will other mobile operators follow suit, or will they see an opportunity to attract users seeking free access to social media? Only time will tell.

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