Eyeing its next billion users, Facebook opens first office in Africa

facebook china shareholder meeting mark zuckerberg
Africa has a population of more than a billion people, and of those, 120 million are on Facebook. Of course, stats like that won’t have escaped the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, with the words “growth potential” likely ringing loudly in his ears every time he sees them. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that he has been looking at ways to bolster Facebook’s user base in the region.

The strategy includes the impending July opening of the social networking giant’s first office on the continent, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The operation will be led by Nunu Ntshingila, who also runs ad agency Ogilvy & Mather in the country.

Highlighting the importance of the region to Facebook, Nicola Mendelsohn, the company’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, told Bloomberg, “This is one of the places where our next billion users are coming from. It would be a massive missed opportunity. Africa matters.”

There are serious challenges, however. Many African countries don’t have widely available Internet access, while in poorer nations many of those that can afford mobile devices are using feature phones. As you’d expect, Zuckerberg has already thought of that. To bring free or affordable Internet connectivity to the masses, the Facebook boss launched the Internet.org initiative in 2013.

Partnering with some big-name tech firms, as well as local telecom companies, Internet.org is already helping users in four African countries – Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ghana – jump online, with many more nations expected to join the club soon.

The service, offered via an app, doesn’t offer full Web access but instead a limited range of content such as news sites, Wikipedia, and, of course, Facebook. Also, for users in a number of developing countries, the company recently launched a stripped-down version of its social networking app, called Facebook Lite, that works on low-end Android devices.

Facebook and its partners are also working on developing drones that should one day offer those in remote areas access to the entire Internet instead of just the select services currently available with the app.

While Facebook’s boss has talked extensively and passionately of his belief in the importance of connecting everyone in the world so they can “stay close to their loved ones and get access to services like health and education,” such action will of also help his company bolster its user base, serve up more ads, and increase revenue.

It’s all going to take time, but Zuckerberg is clearly keen to get moving with work that could bring millions of new users not only to Facebook, but also to the bundle of other apps the company has developed and acquired.


Department of Justice asks judge to force Facebook to decrypt Messenger

The Department of Justice and Facebook are embroiled in a legal dispute over the future of Messenger's privacy policies. The government is demanding it decrypt Messaenger to allow for wiretapping of criminal suspects. Facebook is refusing…

T-Mobile wants to reinvent customer service with a ‘Team of Experts’

To reinvent how it approaches customer care, T-Mobile announced its Team of Experts. Whenever a customer contacts T-Mobile, they're given direct access to the same team members each time without being put on hold or transferred.
Social Media

New deal suggests Facebook is looking to add sweet interactive tools for Live

Facebook now owns a company that specializes in creating interactive live video experiences with polls, viewer comments, and more. Vidpresso says the change will help it bring the interactive tools to more users.
Movies & TV

MoviePass re-enrolls customers, while Costco offers refunds

MoviePass is reportedly re-enrolling users who had recently canceled the service, giving them an error message when they try to jump ship again. This comes as part of the launch of a new plan from the struggling company.
Social Media

Facebook wants to help you find a mentor with its latest Groups feature

Facebook is designed for connecting to other people -- so why not mentors? Today, Facebook launched a program inside Groups that allows for two users to go through a mentorship program together.
Social Media

Facebook’s less cluttered friend list feeds are no more

Facebook friend feeds created a more curated news feed -- but not anymore. Facebook discontinued the feature, saying it wasn't widely used. The move will help the network focus on improving the news feed, the company says.

The numbers don’t lie: Facebook is faltering. So what will eventually replace it?

Facebook is faltering, and the data prove it. User growth is slowing, employee outlooks are dipping, and young people are looking elsewhere. But for Facebook to fail, an alternative must arise. Who will it be?

Starting a vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability.

For Monaris, it’s a photography career launched on an iPhone and Instagram

On Instagram, she's known just as Monaris. But street photographer Paola Franqui has built a following largely with an iPhone and a smile. We sat down with her to talk photography, style, and Instagram, of course.

Marco? Polo! Let's explore the app known as the 'video walkie-talkie'

Marco Polo has been dubbed the "video walkie-talkie," but how does the video messaging app stack up against competitors like Snapchat and Instagram? From unique filters to personalized video messages, we explore the Marco Polo app.
Social Media

Kids can now initiate a friend request on Messenger Kids by using a password

Facebook's messaging app for the under-13 crowd required parents, not kids, to initiate the process of adding a friend. Now kids can start the process by using a unique passphrase -- a feature that still requires parental approval.

The Nixplay Iris might just make digital picture frames cool again

The digital picture frame's popularity has fizzled because of time-consuming updates and low quality -- but can a Wi-Fi connected frame change that? The Nixplay Iris is an 8-inch smart digital picture frame that wireless updates photos.
Social Media

Instagram hackers are changing account info into Russian email addresses

Have you logged in to your Instagram lately? A hack circulating this month has Instagram users locked out of their accounts because a hacker changed all the profile data, according to a report.
Social Media

How to use Adobe Spark Post to spice up your social media images

Images are proven to get more likes than plain text -- but only if those images are good. Adobe Spark post is an AI-powered design program for non-designers. Here's how to use it to take your social media feeds to the next level.