In a Wall Street Journal piece posted Monday, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg argued that basic internet services should be as free and accessible as dialing 911 for health and crime emergencies. Zuckerberg noted that although there had been a noticeable increase in internet usage over the years, only one third of the world population is currently online, leaving the rest of the world deprived of information.
Zuckerberg, who heads one of the most successful tech companies on the planet, has been actively speaking out over the past few months on the gross lack of internet access in may areas of the world, including first world countries. He blamed this issue on the lack of infrastructure, high costs and a few other factors. Last year, Zuckerberg launched internet.org in an effort to provide a more accessible internet access in more parts of the world. A few tech companies from developing areas, like Globe Telecom from the Philippines and Tigo from Africa and South America, have pledged their support for the project.
In his editorial, Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of developing a globally available, inexpensive, and easily accessible internet connection. Zuckerberg wrote that the internet should be treated like a basic service, similar to a person’s immediate access to basic telephone services like 911 emergency calls. Zuckerberg wrote:
“Anyone can call 911 to get medical attention or report a crime even if you haven’t paid for a phone plan. In the future, everyone should have access to basic Internet services as well, even if they haven’t paid for a data plan.”
Zuckerberg criticized the false notion that more smartphone purchases led to more accessible and affordable internet, noting that the costs of data plans would still hinder smartphone users from going online on the cheap.
The Facebook billionaire has particularly set his philanthropic eyes on Africa. Recentlym he stated that he would improve Facebook services in the continent to provide its 1 billion residents easier social media connections. In Rwanda, an internet.org project called SocialEDU was launched to provide online education to its students via free data plans.
Mark Zuckerberg receives a one-dollar salary as CEO of Facebook. His personal wealth is estimated to be around $25 billion. Zuckerberg has been named number one charity giver in 2013, having donated $930 million to various charity organizations. Despite recent negative reports about the social media company, especially regarding its alleged misuse of user data, Zuckerberg emerges as one of the top philanthropists of the decade, joining the ranks of other billionaires like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.
[Image from Niall Kennedy via Flickr]