Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised that his company will assist in bringing internet access to refugee camps. Speaking at the United Nations Private Sector Forum, he said Facebook would work with the intergovernmental body to make the internet available to those who wouldn't otherwise be able to use it, calling it an "enabler of human rights" and a "force for peace." The New York Times says Zuckerberg also noted that having more people online would be beneficial to Facebook itself. "It's not all altruism," he said later in the day. "We all benefit when we are more connected."
Zuckerberg didn't say how or when internet was coming to camps
Zuckerberg didn't specify exact details of how, when, or where Facebook would start to offer internet to refugees first, but the company's Internet.org initiative has been working on the problem for the last few years. The UN's General Assembly building has this week displayed parts from Facebook's internet-enabling drone, a huge creation the size of a passenger jet that Zuckerberg says will eventually fly unpiloted around the world, beaming Wi-Fi signal down to areas that have sparse internet access.
Zuckerberg has called internet access "essential" for the developing world, but critics have decried Internet.org's schemes as flouting net neutrality, funneling users into preferred apps and services. Facebook changed its approach earlier this year, allowing all companies into Internet.org's walled garden, saying that it had not intended to pick and choose services but that it was previously "not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free." More recently, Facebook rebranded its Internet.org mobile site and app as "Free Basics," suggesting that when refugee camps do get Zuckerberg-enabled access to the internet, Facebook will be front and center.