Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, wants more people to connect to the Internet in developing countries – particularly women.
Facebook has said that it wants to make the Internet available to new parts of the world. It has rolled out free Internet access (via the company’s Internet.org app) in countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Colombia, Zambia, and Tanzania.
“The goal of Internet.org is to make internet access available to the two thirds of the world who are not yet connected, and to bring the same opportunities to everyone that the connected third of the world has today.”
The Internet.org app (as it appears in Ghana). Photo Source: “Internet.org App Available in Ghana”
Sandberg said that “this isn’t the whole answer [but it allows] some people to get data for free,”
She noted that for many people in developing countries it is simply too expensive to gain access to the Internet.
McKinsey and Facebook report that more than 4 billion people don’t have access to the Internet around the world, and the problem is worse among women.
Sandberg said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that women are 25 percent less likely to be connected than men.
“The benefits of getting women connected often … outweigh the benefits of men getting connected because they will put those investments back into the education and health care of their children,” she said.
Sandberg said that Facebook intends to expand Internet connectivity and allow people to have a chance to learn and improve their lives as a result.
The smartphone app gives users access to Wikipedia, Facebook, job listings, and information on health care, civil rights, and motherhood.
“Unless we intervene … women will not get the same opportunities to participate [in society],” she said.
Sandberg, who owns a large amount of Facebook shares, became one of the youngest female billionaires last year. She first joined the company, after working at Google Inc, in 2008.