Facebook aims to get the world online
By Barbara Ortutay, AP, Aug 21, 2013
NEW YORK (AP)—Food, water and the Internet?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to get all of the world’s 7 billion people online through a partnership with some of the largest mobile technology companies. He says the Web is an essential part of life, and everyone deserves to be connected, whether they live in Norway, Nicaragua or Namibia.
"The Internet not only connects us to our friends, families and communities, but it is also the foundation of the global knowledge economy," Zuckerberg wrote in a paper posted to his Facebook page late Tuesday. The title asks "Is Connectivity A Human Right?"
Of course, connecting more people to the Internet is the kind of philanthropy that would create more potential Facebook users, which would also help boost the company’s bottom line.
"There’s nothing wrong with that," said Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson, author of "New New Media."
Facebook said the group’s goal is to “make Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected”—about 5 billion people.
According to research group Internet World Stats, about 16 percent of Africa’s population is online, compared with 28 percent in Asia, 43 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean and 79 percent in North America.
Levinson called the venture “profoundly humanistic, while adding that “at the same time, I would never say that Facebook is run by angels.”
If the effort pays off, Facebook will grow its user base, advertising revenue and influence. Business and philanthropy, in this case, can go hand in hand, Levinson said.
Most of Facebook’s users live outside the U.S., and much of the site’s new user base will come from developing countries in the years ahead. And while most Americans first got online using desktop computers, many of the Internet’s newest users are bypassing PCs entirely, relying on mobile phones instead.