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Facebook Planning to Bring Free Internet to Africa: Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Commodore, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. Commodore

    Commodore Technology of Peace

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    So apparently the fine folks at Facebook are going to attempt to use satellites to bring free internet to certain regions of the African continent:

    While this sounds all charitable and nice, I am suspicious as to how helpful such a move will actually be. Wouldn't it be better for the local economy if Facebook assisted African nations with building their own infrastructure so they can start up their own local ISPs, thus bringing jobs and revenue into the area? I see it as kind of like what the first episode of that show "Adam Ruins Everything" was saying about people who donate shoes and clothes to Africa. Basically, doing so puts the local shoemakers and shoe salesmen out of business, thus causing further damage to the local economy and making progress just that much harder. I think just giving them free internet instead of assisting them with the means to provide their own internet will just deepen their dependency on foreign aid and prevent African nations from making any real progress towards economic independence.

    Source: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/s/facebook-beam-free-internet-africa-180439580.html
     
  2. Wolfbeckett

    Wolfbeckett Jerkin' and nonsense.

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    I think this can be good, provided it's really free Internet, not only in a financial sense but also in an open sense. Access to vast swathes of information can be a huge help to societies trying to lift themselves out of the dark ages. Free and open access to information is one of the fundamental necessities if you want a free, healthy, and thriving culture. Maybe the Internet can help them realize that actually, condoms are a pretty great thing, maybe we don't have to have this AIDS epidemic after all? How much of these problems are caused by the fact that the populace have no way of informing themselves about the facts of a situation?
     
  3. Kozmos

    Kozmos Jew Detective

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    Economic independence doesn't really exist anymore. The internet is more like a utility nowadays, more access to online education, small webshops, whatever. Local ISPs just scoop up whatever local talent there is and bring in outside workers because their needs are now, not 20 years in the future.
     
  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I've read that this isn't really bringing "the internet" to the masses, but rather a facebook-pre-loaded type of internet, whatever that means.

    Basically the company wants those people to think that facebook = internet, for their own corporate reasons, and not just out of the goodness of their hearts.
     
  5. Commodore

    Commodore Technology of Peace

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    Of course. No company ever does anything out of the goodness of their heart. There's always a profit motive in there somewhere.
     
  6. amadeus

    amadeus めっちゃしんどい

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    They get something for free and some people still manage to complain about it.
     
  7. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

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    I can agree that it may be superior, for the reasons you discussed, to encourage local ISPs instead of the proposed system.

    However, I don't think that's a standard that we can hold Facebook to. NGOs and governments, sure, but I think the private company has different obligations.

    That said I strongly suspect that the economic opportunities encouraged by free internet would outweigh the decline in local ISPs. The tech in all skills required to run a local ISP are much more portable to other companies than being a shoemaker.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    ^^^^ This. I cannot wait for the next "big thing" that will turn Facebook into another "My Space".
     
  9. Formaldehyde

    Formaldehyde Both Fair And Balanced

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    TANSTAAFL.
     
  10. FriendlyFire

    FriendlyFire Codex WMDicanious

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    I cant imagine too many people in Africa with computers and electricity. Probably good for schools. I'd also imagine the speeds with probably be very limited, good enough to read news papers, email and access online wiki.

    It is free so you cant really complain.
     
  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    If it uses FB as its portal, it not really free; the cost just might not be in cash.
     
  12. Zelig

    Zelig Beep Boop

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    Oh, people don't even think facebook = internet, people think that Facebook isn't part of the internet.

    Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet
     
  13. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    From your link:

     
  14. Formaldehyde

    Formaldehyde Both Fair And Balanced

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    "Internet.org"? This is getting sleezier by the second.
     
  15. Commodore

    Commodore Technology of Peace

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    And I'm not saying we should hold Facebook to those standards, just that maybe they should stop and think about any unintended negative side effects from what, on the surface, seems like a noble and charitable gesture.
     
  16. CavLancer

    CavLancer This aint fertilizer

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    Damn good! I need to email a certain African Prince and ask him where my million bucks is. ;)
     
  17. Samson

    Samson Warlord

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    From a philosophical point of view I am not sure the comparison is valid. I would say bringing internet to people is more like providing roads than providing shoes. It provides opportunities for commerce, allowing people to engage in buisiness that they would not otherwise be able to.

    However this does raise questions about a couple of things:

    "Politically", facebook is evil etc. Well covered by others here.

    "Technically", How do people in rural africa send data to a satellite? I have not read the link, so there may be more details, but it seems to me pretty expensive to have a 2 way satellite dish (rather than the 1 way that provides satellite TV) so who is going to do this?
     
  18. Leoreth

    Leoreth 心の怪盗団 Moderator

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    You liked Obamaphones then? Wouldn't have guessed.
     
  19. Yeekim

    Yeekim Warlord

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    That's what I wanted to say.
     
  20. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Warlord

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    Depends on how they set up the network. There is already satellite transcievers (two-way radios) that can fit in roughly cell-phone packages and they already sell 'satphones' which are cell phones that connect directly to satellites.

    But they might set up local cellular networks that then backhaul to satellites. In other words, instead of building a national grid of cell towers, you put a few in certain areas and then they connect to satellites. But that would someone defeat the purpose of bringing internet to everyone.

    I think they are planning on instead giving away satellite modems that people plug their phones and laptops into but I'm not sure.
     

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