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Mobile Versions of Websites Discriminating Against the Poor? In a Strange Way, Yes

​Before we get started, I don’t want you to think that this is a conspiracy theory blog. I’m not sitting here saying that every website on the internet has come together as some sort of sinister cabal designed to keep people down. That would be utterly insane. I personally think that when people make mobile versions of websites they’re trying to be genuinely helpful. However, unfortunately, it also means that low income people cannot access part of the internet.

Before we get started, I don’t want you to think that this is a conspiracy theory blog. I’m not sitting here saying that every website on the internet has come together as some sort of sinister cabal designed to keep people down. That would be utterly insane. I personally think that when people make mobile versions of websites they’re trying to be genuinely helpful. However, unfortunately, it also means that low income people cannot access part of the internet.

What do you mean? They are trying to keep the poor out?! Hold it. Let me explain: I’m sure you’ve come across websites that have a mobile version which doesn’t execute the same functionality of the full website. I’m not talking about things that just can’t be done on a mobile device, such as certain types of video. Frequently mobile versions are delayed or limited versions of larger websites (I have currently come up to this problem with Vocus, which submits press releases; although there’s no reason why the website shouldn’t work on an iPad, the mobile version [from which you cannot escape] has most of the features not be an option).

I know what you’re saying: it’s no big deal; just go on your laptop and do what you need to do. But, for millions of low income people, this just isn’t an option. For many, a mobile device (which, while expensive, still costs less than a full a computer) their only form of connecting to the internet. For them, this lack of functionality can be exasperating. In June, The Huffington Post ran an article describing how websites that are not optimized for mobile devices negatively affect the poor. This is true: even many websites that are designed to help provide social services for the poor lack a mobile version and are essentially unusable on a mobile device.

While I agree completely, I also feel that being forced into the mobile version that is incomplete also limits the internet to people who, honestly, do not have access to the full version. Ideally, every website would have a flawlessly integrated, complete mobile version so that everybody could use the internet equally, but, that’s not always an option (many companies simply can’t afford turning their large and complicated websites into a mobile version, which can sometimes amount to having an entirely new website developed).

Therefore, until that day comes, I would ask that websites contain the option to see the non-mobile version on a mobile device. It might look ugly or not even work 100% properly, but, at least it would give more options for people who need to use the internet but are limited to mobile devices.

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