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Communications of the ACM

Global computing

The Internet That Facebook Built

The Internet That Facebook Built, illustrative photo

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates / Shutterstock

When Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, in a Wall Street Journal editorial published earlier this year,5 proposed connecting to the Internet those two-thirds of humanity currently offline the global computing community took keen note. Zuckerberg recited the economic benefits of Internet connectivity as well as the paradisiacal "new global sense of community" this increased access will provide. Taken at his word (and deeds) Zuckerberg is not proposing increased access to the open Internet, but instead the creation of a walled garden for the world's poor, free to enter while exacting premium payments to leave.

Last year Facebook teamed up with a set of mobile operators and handset manufactures to create, a global partnership aiming to connect "the next 5 billion people"4 and this year they launched their "app" in Zambia.3 As Zuckerberg describes it, the app positions Facebook as the "on-ramp to the Internet."2 while also offering a free set of other "basic services" including Facebook Messenger and Wikipedia.


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