Guess between Project Loon and the Hyperloop hoopla, Mark Zuckerberg was feeling a little left out. Because Facebook’s latest announcement is something called Internet.org, a new effort to get billions more users online, via cheaper means of delivering mobile data. Also participating: Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Well, as side projects go, at least it’s closer to his wheelhouse than immigration reform.
The challenge with broadening global access to Internet is that data’s expensive. In the plan released last night, Zuck suggests it’s “reasonable to expect the overall eﬃciency of delivering data to increase by 100x in the next 5–10 years.”
There are two key parts to this: making more efficient apps, and reducing the cost of delivering data. If that can be done, then “it becomes economically reasonable to offer free basic services to those who cannot afford them.”
Unfortunately, the announcement is accompanied by a video that reads like an SNL parody of a tone-deaf adopt-a-child program. It only takes 69 cents a day to give Susie the most wonderful gift of all–Internet!
Look, there’s no question that the Internet is, in many ways, a useful tool that improves lives. But let’s get real: You can’t have Facebook unless you’ve got the Internet. And this business about how “connectivity is a human right” is merely marketing’s busted toupee for the petty, mundane reality of day-to-day Facebook use.
Besides, maybe Zuck should’ve called up his fellow Harvard drop-out Bill Gates to get his two cents on this sort of scheme. We’re starting to suspect the Microsoft founder would just have rolled his eyes and told him to write a check for some more malaria nets, instead.