Facebook: the Humanitarian

Having the internet makes life easier and possibly even more livable. Search engines put the world at your fingertips and participating in virtual communities like Facebook, Youtube, and Reddit unites billions of people under a common thread.

Yet, 4 billion people have never been online.

Facebook hopes to change that by creating Internet.org, an informational platform delivering free Internet access to the two-thirds of the world without it. This set of simple and data efficient sites will introduce the large majority of the world to the value of the Internet.

In the May 4, 2015 video announcement, Mark Zuckerberg said that Internet.org works for the common fisherman, the man the majority of the world relates to. He, like the “chicken farmer in Zambia,” can research ways to better sells their products. Likewise, an expected mother in a rural village can use Internet.org to find the best ways to raise her children. And, when her kids get older, they too can use the open web to help study for exams. Further, research shows that for every billion people with Internet access, more than one hundred million are lifted out of poverty.

Net neutrality is at the core of this argument. Net neutrality is the principle that all data should be distributed equally. This requires the fair distribution of charges, content, sites, applications, necessary equipment, and modes of communication. Zuckerberg supports net neutrality, but also believes that preventing is not enough. There remains the need to actively support underprivileged, minority, and women and children groups, which require access. “Access equals opportunity. Net neutrality should not prevent access. We need both.”

In its inception, Internet.org had an exclusive partnership between Facebook and certain partners. Now, Facebook maintains that Internet.org is free for anyone to join, free of charge. The business model follows that the more people linking through free Internet.org, the more people will end up purchasing affordable access to the broader Internet. Facebook is even going one step further. Internet.org will let anyone build free basic services.

The bottom-line is to give everyone the opportunity to connect. Internet.org will run free resources like Wikipedia, job listings, local news, HIV education, and maternal health services. As the platform grows, it will offer more and more free services
Already, the Internet.org app is available in India, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Colombia, Tanzania, Indonesia, and many other countries. In less than a year, it brought more than 9 million people online.

“As we are having this debate” concludes Zuckerberg, “remember that the people this affects most, the 4 billion unconnected have no voice on the Internet.”

– Lin Sabones

Sources: Facebook, Internet.org, Investopedia
Photo: ITProPortal