Facebook’s Zuckerberg to UN: We’ll Bring Internet to Refugee Camps

29 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook will help the UN bring internet access to refugee camps.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the United Nations about the internet’s ability to raise people out of poverty, explaining that for every 10 people connected, one will be lifted.

already have a hard life, but that’s made worse by the typical lack of internet access at refugee camps — unless you resettle, you may never get online.From being just a platform to network, Facebook is breaking out into new areas with initiatives such as free basic services and the newly launched rural Internet access project ‘Express Wi-Fi’. High Commissioner for Refugees to bring Internet access to refugee camps, BBC reports. “Connectivity will help refugees better access support from the aid community and maintain links to family and loved ones,” Zuckerberg said. “Facebook is in a unique position to help maintain this lifeline.” There are currently about 1.5 billion users that log into the social media website at least once a month. Zuck added: ‘Data can help us make smarter decisions but only if you can interpret it quickly and with confidence, so we want to help the U.N. make decisions that will advance our goals.’ Addressing crowds, which included President Xi Jinping of China, U2 musician Bono and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, he also said that access to the web should be ‘at the heart of the global development strategy’ when it comes to making poverty history.

It should be accessible by everyone.” Other co-signatories included Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, and U2 front man Bono because he has to muscle in on this sort of thing and probably thinks that every Somali villager is entitled to a free copy of his new album. Company chief Mark Zuckerberg (who revealed the plans at a luncheon) didn’t explain how and where this would take place, but it won’t be shocking if Facebook relies on its upcoming internet drones to connect these sometimes remote places. India, with the second largest number of Facebook users, is not just a key market but also an important test bed for the company to launch new initiatives. In an unusual move for Zuck, he ditched his usual hoodie for a proper suit, attending a lunch do with guests including German chancellor Angela Merkel. “A ‘like’ or a post won’t stop a tank or a bullet, but when people are connected we have the chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding, and that’s a powerful force,” he said.

On Sunday, Zuckerberg hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the company’s headquarters for a town hall with Facebooks’ employees and their families. The UN estimates that it will take between 3.5 and five trillion dollars a year to meet the global goals involved, while Jamie Drummond, executive director of One, the Bono-fronted charity, called on the countries of the world to come up with an “urgent plan” to get things moving. On the sidelines of this event, BusinessLine met Zuckerberg as part of a select media round table, where he talked about a range of issues including philanthropy, cyber security and network neutrality. The Facebook CEO recently co-wrote a piece in the New York Times with U2 frontman Bono in which they outline the importance of global connectivity and call for Silicon Valley tech companies to take action.

A number of initiatives are already in place as the big internet players continue to show their philanthropic commitment to having even more people to advertise to. Speaking to a body of heads of state and UN delegates, he made an impassioned plea that the Internet is a key enabler of human rights. “Insuring access is essential to achieving global justice and opportunity,” he said. Zuckerberg’s Internet.org has come under fire for its Free Basics service which offers access to free sites which Facebook deems relevant to the audience, but fails basic privacy tests. He made the speech on the day he partnered with Bono, the rockstar founder of the advocacy group ONE, to publish a connectivity declaration, which calls on global leaders to prioritize Internet access.

You’ll get to keep your current user name (as long as it doesn’t contain invalid characters, in which case you’ll have to go through a few extra steps to make the transfer), and all your old comments will eventually (not immediately) migrate with you. That may be true, but Facebook has recently had a hard time selling people on its role in furthering that connectivity after a global backlash against its Internet.org program that began in India last April. Several Indian web publishers pulled out of parts of Internet.org, which lets some publishers offer pared-down versions of services to users free through a Facebook-built app.

The criticism gained momentum in May when nearly 70 advocacy groups released a letter to Zuckerberg protesting Internet.org, arguing it violated net neutrality principles and stirred security concerns. Facebook has now responded by changing the name of its app and mobile web site to Free Basics, in order to distance it from the larger Internet.org initiative and by opening its platform so that any developer can launch services from it.

But a defensive-sounding post from August on the Internet.org website labeled “Myths and Facts” makes clear the criticism Facebook is receiving is striking a chord. (Example: MYTH: Facebook has launched Internet.org to help drive its own growth and revenue opportunities within developing countries.) Despite Facebook’s efforts, as Wired wrote on Friday, the criticism continues. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg has invested significant time this year in talking to world leaders from Panama to Indonesia about the company’s connectivity efforts.

And they browsed through a display of phones from different countries—such as Bangladesh and Guatemala—that demonstrated what Free Basics looks and feels like in each. There is a feeling within governments that companies like Facebook do not respond fast enough when asked to take down content that could incite social unrest.

Shortly before Modi arrived on campus, Zuckerberg added a filter to his profile that superimposed the Indian flag over his face to show support for Modi’s digital efforts in India.

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