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Zuckerberg will spend billions to spread web access

James Temperton
8 Sep 2014
Mark Zuckerberg
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Facebook CEO says that connecting more people will be good for the world and his company's profits

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg is willing to go on an almighty spending spree to get more people online. Speaking about his company's impending $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp, Zuckerberg said it had the potential to reach "two or three billion people".

"We feel a big responsibility to bring the internet to more people," Zuckerberg said at an event in Mexico City. He said that he was willing to spend "billions of dollars" to get more people online saying it will be good for the world and Facebook's profit margins.

Last year Zuckerberg announced the internet.org initiative with aims of connecting more people around the world through mobile phones. The organisation is working on ways to connect remote and unconnected areas using new technology.

Now, having acquired WhatsApp pending regulatory approval, Zuckerberg is looking to rapidly expand the number of people with access to the internet. With around 7.1 billion people on the planet, only an estimated 39 per cent are online. By the end of 2014 nearly three billion people will have internet access.

"When everyone is on the Internet all of our businesses and economies will be better," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook currently has 1.32 billion monthly active users, but is looking to expand with its acquisition of WhatsApp and a greater focus on mobile. Connecting users in Africa and Asia is seen as a key area of growth, with the internet.org project showing how Zuckerberg is now targeting the unconnected developing world to drive growth.

"What we really care about is connecting everyone in the world," he said. WhatsApp is expected to remain a separate service once its acquisition by Facebook is complete but it isn't yet clear how or if the social network will integrated into the hugely popular messaging app.

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