Is Zuckerberg a Human Rights Champion?

August 21st, 2013 by Rob Brown

Mark Zuckerberg has just released a white paper announcing a plan to connect 5 billion more people in the developing world to the Internet. It’s called Is Connectivity a Human Right?

Internet.org, is a partnership with six other companies, Ericsson, MediaTek , Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to “develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments”. The plan is to get the world online and that means connecting two-thirds of the global population who are not yet connected.

Zuckerberg is well placed to lead such a charge but is he right to claim the mantle of human rights campaigner?  Whilst cogently argued the paper is didactic.  It lapses into the repetitive style more commonly asscociated wth propaganda and the last five paragraphs before the conclusion all begin with the words; “This is good…”.

The Facebook founder may be strong on connectivity but is he credible on human rights? His former colleague Charlie Cheever, who went on to start Quora has said; ”I feel Mark doesn’t believe in privacy that much, or at least believes in privacy as a stepping-stone. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong.”

Maybe privacy isn’t a right but a privilege.  Either way as Robert Hofs says in Forbes today “I can’t help wondering why these companies feel the need to trot out such idealistic concepts. Ultimately, there’s only one reason all these businesses are involved with this project: money”.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

One Response to “Is Zuckerberg a Human Rights Champion?”


  1. John Erskine Says:

    This sounds like a good move by the Social Network owner.

    Increasingly those who are not connected to the internet are missing out on lots of opportunities , and in particular education.

    Increasing access to the internet will also help foster and develop democracy as the rapid spread of information makes it much easier for people in developing countries to hold the government to account and highlight human rights or other abuses of power, provided that social media sites are tightly controlled as they are in china or become blocked completely as is being debated in the Turkish courts currently.

    This seems to be a noble aspiration by Zuckerberg and something I think should be applauded.

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