Internet.org – Empowering People or Increasing Facebook Dominance

Internet.org is a partnership between Mark Zuckerberg and 6 major mobile phone companies, 4 of which are located in Africa. The other 2 are in Colombia and India. The main purpose of this partnership is to provide free access to the internet. However, it will be free for selected online applications such as Facebook and weather among others. Since there are still many people who do not have access to the internet, Zuckerberg’s intention is to make the internet easily accessible and also to help people in emerging markets. This will mean that more people will have access to jobs, will create jobs, will have an opportunity to educate themselves and it will generally reduce the rate of poverty around the world, especially in developing countries.

Although some people and companies such as Airtel Africa have embraced this idea and entered into the partnership, some mobile carriers feel that this is not a wise move, especially for them since it does not create a level playing field. They are even more bitter now since Zuckerberg acquired Whatsapp, a free messaging service. Whatsapp caused a drop in revenue in SMS messages since Whatsapp allows you to send text messages for free. However, Zuckerberg made it clear that that was not the intention. He simply intends to expose more people to the internet and after the audience has tasted what the internet has to offer, they will be more willing to pay for data in order to access other internet services.

You may wonder why some online applications will be free on Internet.org while you will need to buy data to access others. The reason Zuckerberg gave for this is that most people use the internet to stream videos and this may be quite expensive for mobile carriers to agree to offer for free. Hence, few online applications that are beneficial and yet cheap for the mobile carriers will be made available including wikipedia. Although some believe that internet.org is meant to make Facebook even more dominant, this is really not the case since internet.org is not a profit making project. Confronted about this, Zuckerberg said that if he was doing it for the money, he would have concentrated on the 1 billion customers he already has signed up to Facebook.

If all goes well, internet will be affordable to many more people and this will be an opportunity people to create more job and reduce unemployment rate and people will also be more educated on important matters such as health among others.

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