Facebook Expands Its Subsea Cable Network

Illustration for article titled Facebook's Subsea Cables Are The Last Thing Africa Needs

Photo: Ander Gillenea (Getty Images)

On Monday, Facebook announced it was partnering with Africa’s largest fiber firm, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, to construct an “extensive” fiber community that’s over 2,000 kilometers (or 1,243 miles) lengthy. Per Liquid, this community is without doubt one of the most “extensive,” and “difficult” builds that the corporate’s undertaken, and would require the work of not less than 5,000 folks from native communities to create the community that can—ultimately—span from the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We know that deploying fibre in this region is not easy, but it is a crucial part of extending broadband access to under-connected areas,” mentioned Ibrahima Ba, who directs Network Investments in Facebook’s Emerging Markets division. “We look forward to seeing how our fibre build will help increase the availability and improve the affordability of high-quality internet in DRC.”

Facebook first started vying to nook the African market again in 2016, when it started rolling out its Free Basics initiative to dozens of firms in Africa. While early proponents applauded the corporate’s seemingly philanthropic makes an attempt to carry the staggering variety of disconnected citizens on-line, that POV misplaced favor fairly shortly when folks noticed how Facebook handled its… different “emerging markets.”

The firm still hasn’t released data about its position in inciting genocide in Myanmar, for instance, and it teetered dangerously close to encouraging one other genocide in Ethiopia final yr. In the latter case, misinformation a few widespread singer’s politically charged murder set off a near-instant misinformation marketing campaign concerning the deceased singer that left folks’s houses burned and destroyed and 86 Ethiopian citizens dead within the rampage.

We’ve additionally seen Facebook’s hands-off method wreak havoc in Senegal, the place advocates say the corporate has didn’t police violent homophobic hate speech for years. After misinformation and rumors surrounding the imprisonment of ex-presidential candidate Ousmane Sonko sparked bloody protests throughout the area earlier this yr, Senegal authorities cut off access to the web completely slightly than maintain its residents related by way of Facebook and WhatsApp. And identical to within the rest of the world Facebook has turn into a key supply for COVID-19 misinformation throughout Africa—together with in the Congo, the place these new cables are set to be laid.

Despite quietly ending Free Basics in Myanmar again in 2017, Facebook has saved on charging forward with its plans to attach Africa. Last yr, the corporate put out a blog post describing 2Africa—an enormous spiderweb of undersea cables meant to “interconnect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.” Per Liquid’s press launch, its personal community will even hook up and broaden 2Africa’s attain.

“Like all of our investments, 2Africa is being completed as part of our efforts toward an open and inclusive internet ecosystem, which is a vital part of the continent’s digital economic growth,” Facebook wrote. “This expanded capacity will facilitate a healthy internet ecosystem by enabling greatly improved accessibility for people and businesses alike.”

In different phrases, the corporate is yet again utilizing small companies as an excuse to plow forward with—properly, no matter it desires, actually. As all the time, it seems like the corporate will maintain following these greenback indicators and ignore the blood and viscera its merchandise carry on digging up.

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