The modern world has rapidly increased its speed of communication through the internet. This tool has become so efficient and access to it has gotten cheaper and cheaper over the course of its development. So much so that many sociologists, philosophers and businessmen are now starting to ponder if the internet has become so crucial to human communication and integration into the economic circuit that it could be considered a human right. This has been the subject of a heated controversy between those who agree and those who do not.
This initiative was started by Mark Zuckerberg barely a week ago to render the Internet accessible to the 5 billion inhabitants of the planet that currently do not have access. Here’s a short interview of Zuckerberg describing some of the motives behind this initiative
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This initiative is the combined effort of companies such as Qualcomm, Nokia, Mediatek, Facebook, Samsung, Ericsson, and Opera, representing a powerful coalition of companies dedicating resources to the cause. Granted, the program is in its infancy so many details are unknown but it does present a compelling cause.
Here’s the video they posted on their homepage explaining Internet.org’s goal:
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Whatever happens to this project, I think this is an impressively artistic and metaphoric video for such an effort and shows a charitable dimension of Mark Zuckerberg that is reminiscent of Bill Gates. Especially when you put into account his past charitable efforts such as donating $100 million to the Newark Public School system or $500 million to a Silicon Valley non-profit.
Albeit a noble cause, can the internet be truly an inalienable human right on par with the right to life or the right to asylum, just two of the 30 rights outlined by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights? What use is the internet really to someone who has trouble getting food everyday or is suffering from Malaria? How can the internet possibly be in the same discussion?
However, it is indeed a considerable technological tool that integrates someone into the global economic circuit. Imagine the United States without the internet for example. Our economy would be drastically less robust, a large number of our biggest companies would not exist or would be much smaller (Ebay, Amazon, or Google for example). On an individual level, it would be harder to sell items you don’t need or buy items at much more competitive prices as the Internet gives us all access to the global market as opposed to just a local market.
The other question that is asked which has some validity to it is whether Zuckerberg is doing this simply because he believes in it or because it is largely in Facebook’s favor to increase the number of internet users and subsequently, the number of Facebook users, thus increasing their ad-based revenue. Clearly Facebook stands to benefit from this, but I don’t think that takes away from the genuine compassion displayed by Zuckerberg through this initiative is undeniable.
Facebook stock has been a hot topic by itself lately. Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg succeeded in his goals and manages to add 5 billion internet users. Let’s say that that half of those subsequently sign up on Facebook. Given that the social media giant currently has 1.15 billion users, an addition of 2.5 billion would triple its user base and thus triple its advertising potential. Food for thought in terms of Facebook stocks potential.
What do you think about this project and Zuckerberg’s intentions?
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