There’s this thing called the internet. You may have heard of it. You’re on it right now. But two-thirds of the world doesn’t have access — and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has just launched Internet.org to bring the magic medium to those who lack it.
Internet.org is a partnership between seven technology companies including Nokia, Samsung, and Facebook. Its aim of expanding web access is a noble one — the internet does indeed connect people and bring new opportunities for education, development, and business, as the site’s overwrought introductory video argues.
The companies’ approach to the problem is also interesting. Rather than working to build better internet infrastructure in the developing world, they will bring the technology of the internet down to a less complex level by “simplifying phone applications so they run more efficiently and… improving the components of phones and networks so that they transmit more data while using less battery power,” reports the New York Times. The solution puts the burden on the businesses rather than inefficient governments, who would be hard-pressed to suddenly install a Google Fiber equivalent.
Yet it’s worth delving a little farther into the project’s motives.
In March of this year, Zuckerberg launched FWD.US, a lobbying firm devoted to “comprehensive immigration reform” that’s directed not in the service of embattled illegal immigrants who are being pushed passive aggressively out of the country but attracting engineers and innovators — just the top, most educated genre of applicant. Refugees these are not, but they do make great Facebook employees.
Likewise, Internet.org is great for Zuckerberg’s needs. He can only keep Facebook running at its breakneck pitch with new members, and these days, internet user is just about synonymous with Facebook user.
It’s important to remember that Internet.org isn’t a non-profit. The organization is clearly devoted to creating business opportunities for the companies involved — but humanitarian impact is a great side effect.
Plus, imagine how many more cat memes we’ll have when the rest of the world gets switched on.
That’s right. World peace.