On Sunday, Al Jazeera journalists and activists from the New York Times were among a handful of media groups that received free texts from the government, in a move aimed at curbing online censorship.
The free text exchange was part of a wider effort to encourage more people to use free texts and to share and discuss news, opinion and content online.
It comes as part of an effort by the US government to encourage digital natives to use the internet, particularly to connect with other citizens.
On Monday, the US Department of Commerce’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a trial program to provide free text messages to Americans who don’t use the government-provided email accounts, as part “a digital citizenship experiment” aimed at helping people use their own email to share news and information.
In response, the Times of India, the country’s largest English-language newspaper, said it would “begin providing free text messaging services for users who do not have an email address on their mobile phone.”
The New York Post also offered free text message services for people without an email.
“The new free text service will provide the ability to send and receive text messages for free to anyone who has an email account,” the Post said in a statement.
“It is part of the US’s Digital Citizenship Initiative, which is designed to empower people to share, discuss and share their opinions online and in person.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the FTC said that “it is too early to tell whether the program will be effective at discouraging spam and other unwanted activity, but the new services will enable consumers to share information more effectively, including information that would otherwise remain hidden or out of reach.”
The FTC also said that it will also start providing free email services to people who have registered for the government’s Internet service.
“These services will help address the concerns raised by consumers that the government is targeting them based on their Internet service provider’s location,” the FTC statement said.
The new free service was launched on Sunday, and has been available for users to use since July.
The FTC said it plans to roll out the free text services “as soon as we can”.
Al Jazeera and The New Yorker both said they were “open to exploring the idea of offering more free text-based services to all Americans.”
On Monday night, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at “making the Internet a safer place to do business” and said that he had asked his commerce secretary to consider the FTC’s initiative.
“We must do better, and we must do it faster, to protect Americans and the internet,” Trump said.
Al Jazeera, the New Yorker and The Washington Post all reported on the new service.