Facebook is prepared to invest billions more to triple WhatsApp's reach and connect the entire world to its social network, according to remarks from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a charity event hosted by fellow billionaire Carlos Slim.
At an event in Mexico City for honor students who earned a scholarship through Slim's Telemex Foundation charity, Zuckerberg reiterated his belief in a fully connected world. Businesses and economies will improve as a result of everyone in the world having Internet access, Zuckerberg reasoned.
"What we really care about is connecting everyone in the world," Zuckerberg said. "Even if it means that Facebook has to spend billions of dollars over the next decade making this happen, I believe that over the long term its gonna be a good thing for us and for the world."
When asked by Facebook board members if facilitating the spread of Internet access around the world could be monetized by the social network, Zuckerberg indicated that if it would benefit local economies, it would also be a benefit to their company. Facebook started Internet.org last year with the goal of making affordable Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world not yet connected.
Zuckerberg told the attendees that the Internet reached 50 percent of Mexico. He said the country's Internet penetration was above the global average, but the Internet was still failing to reach 60 million Mexican citizens.
With the WhatsApp messaging app for mobile phones said to have recently surpassed 600 million users, Zuckerberg told event attendees he believed the app would continue to rise and emerge as the top text-messaging platform in the world.
"I think we're going to have an opportunity for WhatsApp to connect two or three billion people because by working with us they're just now going to have so many more resources and opportunities," Zuckerberg said.
While Facebook is prepared to spend billions to connect the rest of the world to the Internet and make WhatsApp the world's standard for messaging, the social networking site has been taking steps to encourage users to share more information and to keep individuals new to the site from jumping ship early on.
Facebook recently introduced its Privacy Checkup tool, which offers to scan users accounts to ensure individuals are aware of what audiences are able to view information they share. The social network site also set new accounts to share information with friends only by default, instead of setting their audiences as public.
"While some people want to post to everyone, others have told us that they are more comfortable sharing with a smaller group, like just their friends," stated Facebook. "We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse."