Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist and Facebook Inc board director, apologised on Wednesday for a series of tweets that condemned the Indian government for banning the social media company’s controversial Free Basics programme, including one which stated that “anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the India people”.
Trai introduced rules on Monday preventing Internet service providers from having different pricing policies for accessing different parts of the Web, effectively dismantling Facebook’s Free Basics program, which offered a pared-back version of Internet services.
Andreessen, who often takes to Twitter to offer his opinions, said the new rules meant that India’s poor had been denied access to the Internet. Only 252 million out of India’s 1.3 billion people have Internet access.
“Denying world’s poorest free partial Internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong,” Andreessen wrote.
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”
On Wednesday, Facebook condemned Andreessen’s Twitter outburst.
“We strongly reject the sentiments expressed by Marc Andreessen last night regarding India.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also condemned his colleague’s comments, saying that he found them “deeply upsetting”.
Dozens of Twitter users blasted Andreessen for his comments, which he deleted and apologised for on Wednesday in a series of tweets.
“I apologize for any offense my comment caused, and withdraw it in full and without reservation,” he wrote. “I will leave all future commentary on all of these topics to people with more knowledge and experience than me.”
1/Last night on Twitter, I made an ill-informed and ill-advised comment about Indian politics and economics.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 11, 2016
2/To be clear, I am 100% opposed to colonialism, and 100% in favor of independence and freedom, in every country, including India.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 11, 2016
3/I am a huge admirer of the nation of India and the Indian people, who have been nothing but kind and generous to me for many years.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 11, 2016
4/I apologize for any offense my comment caused, and withdraw it in full and without reservation.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 11, 2016
Earlier this week, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said he was disappointed with the Indian ruling and said that the company was still “working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world.”