The Internet is playing an increasingly important role for those wanting to start businesses and find new jobs. But could Internet access bring about world peace? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg seems to think so. Not long after Facebook was dragged to court, Zuckerberg and a number of celebrities started a campaign on Saturday to get worldwide access to the Internet, saying that global access is critical to combatting global problems.
“The Internet is more than just a network of machines, it is the key driver of social and economic progress in our time,” said Zuckerberg at a luncheon with United Nations business leaders. “A like or a post won’t stop a tank or a bullet, but when people are connected, we have the chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding.”
The announcement by Zuckerberg is the latest push by companies like Facebook and Google to bring Internet access to the far reaches of the globe. If they succeed in extending the Internet to everyone, it will end up being a true win-win situation for business and people around the world.
One of the first targets for Facebook is to bring Internet access to refugee camps, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. Facebook is reportedly working on satellites and aircraft that can beam down Internet connectivity to smaller villages and towns. Google is attempting something similar, but using weather balloons instead of satellites.
Critics however suggest that connecting everyone around the world is in the best interests of the companies themselves, who make most of their money from advertising, as better Internet access would allow them to advertise to more people.
Be that as it may, Zuckerberg has pointed out that even basic Internet access can change lives. To that end, Facebook has created an initiative – originally called Internet.org and recently changed to Free Basics – which offers Internet access to basic services and allows developers to create apps to be used through the service. You might also like to check out Telegram -a new open source messaging and texting app like Facebook messenger. The young billionaire also announced that his company would be working hand-in-hand with the United Nations in order to help Syrian refugees connect with the outside world via free Internet while in camps.
Although no specific date has been set yet on when Internet would be made available in U.N. refugee camps, developments with the Facebook-owned Internet.org (now called Free Basics) and the company’s Internet-enabling drone are bringing Facebook closer to delivering on the promise of free Internet for all who don’t have access to it.
Zuckerberg made the announcement during a lunch hosted by the United Nations Private Sector Forum last Saturday, Sept. 26. In attendance were other business executives and government leaders who came together to encourage the private sector to do its part in helping the United Nations achieve its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Zuckerberg ackowledged the fact that his agenda in giving free Internet to refugees, and to the four million other people in the world unable to access the Web because they cannot afford computers or smartphones, is not altogether altruistic.
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“We all benefit when we are more connected,” he replied when implicitly questioned if he was really only looking out for Facebook’s bottom line.
Even prior to this announcement, Facebook has already been making strides toward making Internet free and accessible, especially in developing countries like India.
Through its Free Basics initiative, Facebook partnered with several telecommunications companies all over the globe to offer free access to Facebook and some other websites. This move, originally under the name Internet.org, has garnered criticism about privacy, net neutrality and keeping free Internet available only in what has been called Facebook’s “walled garden.”
According to reports, Facebook’s huge Boeing 737-sized drone is also underway to bring free Internet to everyone. Although the drone has yet to be launched, it is said to fly on solar power and will be beaming Wi-Fi connections to unconnected parts of the globe.
In order to bring free Internet to refugee camps, Facebook will work with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Connectivity will help refugees better access support from the aid community and maintain links to family and loved ones. Facebook is in a unique position to help maintain this lifeline,” said Zuckerberg during the U.N. lunch forum.
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