Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has revealed plans to offer Internet to the millions of displaced refugees across the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe. Speaking at the United Nations Private Sector Forum, Zuckerberg said Internet was an “enabler of peace” and a human right.
While the head honcho didn’t detail how his company would provide Internet to people across a variety of countries, he seems intent on making it happen. Zuckerberg also denounced the idea this was all a selfless act, stating to NYT that Facebook does benefit from more people online.
The refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe has added more than three million refugees into an already large pool of 19.5 million, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Facebook may be looking to send drones filled with low-orbit satellite technology to send 4G LTE speed data to the refugee camps. This would allow refugees to connect with lost family members, and let workers on the ground send images and reports worldwide.
It is part of Facebook’s plan to blanket the Earth in drones, capable of sending large scale satellite Internet to millions of people for “free.” The hidden cost being that only part of the Internet is free, for more, you have to start paying money.
Facebook has faced backlash over its Internet service in India, where several consumer-focused groups claim it is breaking net neutrality by offering a select few services for free.
Zuckerberg denies breaking net neutrality, arguing that offering some Internet is better than none at all. He also said that it would be impossible to offer the entire Internet for free, due to potential abuse of the network.
There isn’t much revenue to gain from refugees, so the plan to offer Internet sounds good. Facebook makes most of its money from ads, and those ads are viewed by people that hopefully have enough money to pay for the product — the model doesn’t work for people that have nothing.