Internet a human right?
Last Saturday, Mark Zuckerberg plead that internet is a key enabler of human rights as he joined a group of speakers from global NGOs at the UN. He wants the world to understand that Internet access should be a basic human right and that Facebook’s role in this whole process is driven by his deep social belief that in this way, poverty will be eliminated. As he said: “Research shows that when you give people access to the internet, one in ten people is lifted from poverty”.
Even though it is hard to imagine this highly innovative world without Internet nowadays, still two third of the world still does not have any access to this amazing feature. Internet.org is an initiative of Facebook brining technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities together to join the part of this planet that is not connected.
But how is Internet.org planning to do this? Of course this process goes with baby steps, the application Free Basics by Facebook is a good start. This application provides free basic services in markets where Internet access is too pricy. This app allows people to browse selected health, employment and local information websites without data charges. As Free Basics is already available in parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia, it will continue to more countries around the World.
Of course is there also a lot of criticism involved with this project. Even though the initiative of Facebook is very noteworthy, it still does not contribute to the fact that most of the people in developing countries does not even have the equipment to go online as smartphones of computers are not part of the most necessary attributes to survive. Furthermore, the motivation of Facebook to start this project is not always clear, which leads to the following types of comments: e.g. “Hundreds of millions of emerging market users will think that Facebook and the Internet are one and the same”. According to Zuckerberg, the only thing they want is for as many people to join the internet so that everyone can be connected.
Besides the motives Facebook may have, if this project might help even the smallest amount of people to escape their current living conditions, why not be supportive?