That rocket which blew up was carrying a satellite aimed at aiding Facebook in delivering free, if limited, internet to the poor of the world. We are told this is a bad thing:
But if we’re slightly more cynical about the whole endeavour, it’s not hard to see why Facebook might be so keen to provide these services beyond its possibly genuine desire to create a more connected world. Facebook’s user base has reached near saturation point in the US and Europe, making countries such as Nigeria and India potential goldmines when it comes to new sign-ups. More users, and more user data, benefit Facebook in one extremely simple way – financially.
Like it or not, this financial consideration is a significant factor in the way that the company both provides its services and limits access to others.
We see the same facts and consider them rather differently. In pursuit of filthy lucre, of gelt, a profit hungry organisation is now providing free, even if to a limited version of it, access to the internet to the poor (or perhaps will be when they can manage to loft a satellite). In the absence of this profit hungry company, motivated by absolutely no more that the desire to stack the cash ever higher in the vault, there would be no such internet access for the poor, limited or not.
At which point Hurrah! for greed and the profit motive say we. And it puzzles us deeply that people will fret over the motivation and not look instead at the actual result.
Then there's this of course:
So far so good, right? Well, kind of. Providing access to the internet is a noble cause, particularly in parts of the world where it is severely limited or even non-existent. But should this infrastructure belong to a private company like Facebook, or should it be state-owned and maintained? Far be it from me to question the true nature of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, but no matter how charitable a cause Facebook is championing, its primary aim is to make money – often from monetising its users’ data.
That's just a rerun of an ancient argument. When steel and coal were the big important industries then the left said that government must control them. When the telephone landline network was important then the state must provide that. Now that the internet has mushroomed up entirely free of state interference (except, perhaps that starting point in Arpanet) and is important then of course the state must provide and or control it. Because anything important must be controlled by the state, no other reason.
But we do admit that we rather like, even though we disagree with, the underlying economic argument being used.
"So, these blokes over here will provide this infrastructure and service at their own expense and for free to users. Anyone who wants to build the same or similar is of course entirely free to do so."
"No, we must tax the people so the state can build it."