Facebook Will Connect The Developing World, But At A Price

Internet.org, an initiative backed by tech companies including Facebook, wants to bring low cost Internet to the developing world. But users who are granted access are charged on a pay-as-you-go model, and much of the Internet experience is bundled through Facebook. Not only does this compel users to surrender their personal information to Facebook (lest they be priced out from all the Facebook-bundled apps) but it also limits the possibilities for a non-market solution to connectivity. Writes Evgeny Morozov in the New York Times:

Any emergent social movements concerned with matters of universal and affordable connectivity — as opposed to the corporatism of Silicon Valley — should not take this premise for granted. Nor should they fall for the pseudo-humanitarian rhetoric of rights espoused by technology companies. Whenever Mark Zuckerberg says that “connectivity is a human right,” as he put it in his Internet.org essay, you should think twice before agreeing. There is, after all, little joy in obtaining free access to an empty library, or browsing a bookstore with empty pockets — which is, in effect, what Internet.org offers, while holding out the promise of robust content, if users will pay, a few cents at a time, for the privilege.


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