Awhile back, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s intentions to create a Aquila, a drone that would fly through the air transmitting free internet from above. Today, Zuckerberg went to Yuma, Arizona, to watch Aquila’s amazingly successful maiden voyage. The drone stayed in the air for 90 minutes, three times longer than the expected flight.
What does it mean? Potentially, free internet for all, uncensored. Which of course is wonderful news for developing countries and parts of the world where internet use is government-regulated. There are a ton of positives to the idea of free internet being beamed down from the blue and yet…
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a lot of beef with Facebook. Certainly nowhere near the amount that other people seem to have. But I do tend to question the purity of Facebook’s motives, if not the motives themselves.
Facebook’s foray into science is part of what seems to be a larger trend among media moguls. This week, Lena Dunham announced Lenny Letter’s partnership with GE to expose the important role women play and have always played in the field of science and tech. Lenny Letter even got GE to sponsor a female Sci-Fi writer in the mix. And I don’t think I need to tell you of bizarre that is. A huge corporation sponsoring spec fiction? Since when?
It’s all wholesome and great, but what is it actually about?
Awhile back, Vox ran a video on their site about Kim Kardashian’s greatest talent: Her genius when it comes to para-social interaction. People in the internet age have become disillusioned with ads that straight up ask for your money. What the Kardashian empire is built upon is the kind of ceaseless social interaction across web platforms that makes people think they’re buddies with the Kardashian conglomerate, not just consumers of their product.
Call it skeptical, but a small part of me doesn’t believe that Mark Zuckerberg is all that interested in making it rain free internet onto developing countries. Something tells me he’s most excited by the prospect of all those new followers—all those new consumers.
So when reports of Aquila involve passages about Facebook employees “wiping away tears” at the launch, let’s not get carried away by the instant thought of human connection and making the world a better place—let’s make sure to keep our own eyes clear.