Internet.org sounds like the most noble kind of charity organization: designed to bring broadband to the four billion-plus people around the world who don’t have access, it might be Mark Zuckerberg‘s passion project (and the promo clip is quite stately thanks to JFK).
But Matt Buchanan of The New Yorker, among many others, isn’t so sure about Internet.org’s goals. What’s the problem? Well, the project was founded by Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, and Samsung—seven companies that would love to get those 4-5 billion wired up so they can provide them with related services (and promo messages). Buchanan takes issue with the fact that Facebook stands to gain millions, if not billions, of new users without actually doing any of the infrastructural legwork required to make the plan a reality. It’s hard to believe, but many of the areas targeted by Internet.org don’t have any electricity, much less 4G service.
This is why Zuckerberg’s Wired interview, published yesterday, reads something like the first stop on a damage control tour.