Advertising on internet.org – neutral?

Written by on February 24, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

street in New York cityMark Zuckerberg recently told Bloomberg that he is unsure whether advertising on his internet.org project is a “big part of the solution in the near term.” As a public-spirited organisation – with a big heart – DisruptiveViews can help with this.

No. It is not. If Zuckerberg even thinks ‘advertising’ in the same breath as ‘internet.org’ until the dust has settled (in his favour) in the net neutrality battle, then he will be put in a tumbrel and taken to the gallows. Or at least tarred and feathered. Or should be. Quite apart from the underlying commercial imperative that rules the ‘social’ network, advertising through the apparently separate, non-profit organisation, is inherently ‘dodgy.’ Frankly it struck us a strategy akin to that used by tobacco companies. As the developed world sees how bad it is for you, turn to less educated markets to peddle your wares.

Having tried to get away with this piece of altruism, Mr Z then started on a lecture about how people who have never had access to the internet probably would not appreciate being advertised at. Apparently it is not very effective. Really? How extraordinary! He also said that people who are just beginning to use the internet probably need some guidance about the use of data. The man is a genius (well, OK, he probably is, but why state the obvious?)

The aims of the internet.org project are inherently sound and inherently good. Recently it has launched in several countries. The partnership boasts some huge companies with sound principles. Connecting those who are currently unconnected will provide those people with the platform to make huge progress with their economies, education and wealth. It has been a defining principle of the ITU’s strategy in Sub Saharan Africa for decades. Now networks are in place, providing gateways to the internet and access to knowledge, job boards and useful information is a great step forward.

Given this, it is not particularly tasteful to even bring up the subject of advertising. It simply re-enforces what we already know. That the entity that began as a social network is now a rapaciously commercial one and the ultimate goals are actually pretty clear.

DV Rating: Not impressed!

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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