Inside Facebook’s Ambitious Plan to Connect the Whole World

This is a great Wired feature article on Zuckerberg, Facebook and Internet.org, well worth your time to read. There are two ways to look at this - Zuck’s noble intentions of connecting the world via Internet.org are fantastic, but the scaled back version of the Internet provided by the service is worrying. It violates “Net Neutrality,” which many believe to be crucial to the success of the Internet. I’m not going to ramble on here about net neutrality, but if you want a good, pro-Net Neutrality, case against Internet.org, listen to Om Malik’s explanation on last weeks episode of the TWiT podcast. The other way to look at a something like this is a little more frightening, and it’s got to do with the power Facebook gain as they pursue these endeavours. They already have such a large collection of data on so many people, which has been achieved through the provision of a ‘free’, ad-supported social network. A few lines from the Wired article are particularly noteworthy (emphasis mine): 

Wallace thinks local entrepreneurs like Namalale may be the key to making the Internet take off here. He imagines ways he could enlist her to sell small data packages for local carriers, and, in return, Facebook and Isizwe could build more comfortable seating around her chicken stand.

While I do believe the tech giant is truly trying to do great things for people and make a difference in the world, this becomes about more than just collecting data to advertise to. They’re using their clout to offer people things they can’t won't refuse. At what point does the conflict of interest become too much? Perhaps the whole idea of Internet.org needs to be rethought and pursued by an independent third party with a much stronger consideration for Net Neutrality.