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Zuckerberg's zeal for free Internet shows in Internet.org video

Matt Hamblen | May 5, 2015
Wants techies to focus on people over 'purity'.

Clearly, Facebook hopes its new platform will open up possibilities for greater Internet access. The company will soon release a technical spec for developers to help reach that goal, Zuckerberg said.

"Access equals opportunity. Net neutrality should not prevent access.... It's not an equal Internet if the majority of people can't participate," Zuckerberg added in the video.

As he did in an appearance at Mobile World Congress, Zuckerberg said that carriers can't afford to offer all their Internet services for free, just basic services. Their involvement can be sustained by the prospect of basic users ramping up later to paid services, he said.

"It's not sustainable to offer the whole Internet for free," Zuckerberg said, noting it costs tens of billions of dollars a year to operate the Internet. "It is sustainable, however, to build free basic services."

He at one point repeats one phrase several times, arguing that free basic Internet "is the right thing to do" because it gives people a lifeline in emergencies, lifts people out of poverty and helps them find jobs.

Zuckerberg concludes with a direct ethical appeal to developers building mobile sites and to powerful Internet providers:

"We have to ask ourselves what kind of community do we want to be? Are we a community that values people and improving peoples' lives above all else, or are we a community that puts the intellectual purity of technology above people's needs? As we're having this debate, four billion people have no voice on the Internet and they can't argue their side in the comments below or sign a petition. We decide our character in how we look out for them."

Despite Zuckerberg's poignancy, Entner was pragmatic. "A lot of people have a missionary zeal about free Internet, but Internet.org is actually a commercial offer," he said.

"Zuckerberg doesn't need to make himself into a saint, nor do the other guys have to turn him into a devil. This discussion is about getting more customers that are otherwise not able to use the Internet. There's way too much emotion about it."

 

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