One of Facebook's board members has infuriated Indians with his comments on colonialism

Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen has sparked an internet firestorm with his comments on colonialism. (We first saw the spat on Re/code.)

First, some context: India’s regulator recently blocked Free Basics  — a service from Facebook that provided free internet access to parts of the internet.

Depending on who you talk to, this is either a great thing — some internet is better than none, get the next billion online, etc. — or highly suspect, threatening to created a ghettoised internet for the poor while the rich get the full web.

After heated debate , Indian regulator TRAI announced it falls into this latter category. Strict net neutrality rules have been introduced to the country, and Free Basics in India is no more.

On Tuesday night, Andreessen joined the debate, tweeting that “denying world’s poorest free partial internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong.”

Benedict Evans, another partner at a16z, added sarcastically that “it’s a terrible thing to offer people with no money the choice of something for free.”

To which entrepreneur and VC Vikram Chachra replied: “That sounds like justification for Internet colonialism.”

Andreessen responded: “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”

Twitter users responded angrily to the now-deleted tweet, taking it as a defence of aspects of colonialism and a reflection of modern Silicon Valley’s (alleged) paternalistic instincts towards India.

Balaji Srinivasan, a board member at Andreessen Horowitz, has come to Andreessen’s defence. “This is obvious to anyone who has >140 characters of context, but [Marc Andreessen] is *OBVIOUSLY* pro-capitalist and anti-colonialist. He’s helped the careers of countless Indians in tech when others were fulminating about H1Bs [visas].”

Andreessen has said that “for the record, I am opposed to colonialism, in any country,” and that he will refrain from discussing “Indian economics or politics” in the future.

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