9 things we learned from Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance at Mobile World Congress

learned mark zuckerberg 2014 mobile world congress mwc
Mark Zuckerberg sat down with David Kirkpatrick at the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (Image via Bloomberg)

It isn’t just new products that are making the highlights out of Mobile World Congress 2014 that’s happening in Barcelona. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat down with journalist David Kirkpatrick (and author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World) onstage today, where he was interviewed about the company’s latest happenings, including the recent acquisition of WhatsApp. Here are the 9 most important things we learned.

He wasn’t there to justify Facebook’s WhatsApp purchase

Facebook just bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, so obviously Kirkpatrick asked what was going on there. But Zuckerberg initially changed the conversation to Internet.org. (He returned to the subject of WhatsApp later.) 

He was there to justify Internet.org 

Internet.org, which Zuckerberg founded last year, launched as a partnership between Facebook and six mobile services companies (Nokia, Samsung, Qualcomm, Opera, MediaTek, and Ericsson) as a way to provide affordable Internet access to all (click here to read all you need to know about it).

“This is why I started Facebook,” Zuckerberg said. He admitted that Internet.org was going to lose money for a long period of time, but he still wants to do it. “There’s no clear plan that I can say today, that this will be good for Facebook, but I can say it will be good for the world.”

Zuckerberg noted that he lacked a clear plan for monetization when he started Facebook as well, but he believes that if they successfully connect everyone, there will be a way to reap the benefits of an Internet.org-connected world. 

Zuckerberg framed his quest to connect everyone in the world, as more of a crusade to open people’s hearts and minds to the appeal of data than a serious infrastructure challenge. He mentioned that more than 80 percent of the world lives in places with 2G and 3G access already, and cited the Philippines as a success story in increasing Internet use. 

He sees Facebook as a gateway drug or an “on ramp” 

Kirkpatrick asked how Internet providers will benefit from Internet.org, and Zuckerberg talked about “upsells” as a path for eventual profit. By “upsells” he meant cajoling people who use basic free services into buying data with a one-click purchase. Zuckerberg noted that it will be up to the carrier what constitutes a basic service, so those basic services could be pretty limited. After all, even if Zuckerberg is embarking on the Internet.org project with altruistic intent, it doesn’t mean Facebook’s carrier partners are. 

He’s looking for three to five more partnerships with carriers on Internet.org 

Kirkpatrick asked what Zuckerberg wanted from carriers, seeing as Mobile World Congress is chock-full of them. Zuckerberg emphasized that Facebook is looking for just a few intensive partnerships. “For the next year, we’re really just looking to work with three or five companies that are really serious about trying to connect everyone in their country using free basic services,” he said. 

Facebook actually wants to minimize data use

Zuckerberg talked about the company’s purchase of data compression startup Onovo and the company’s efforts to make apps more data-efficient. That’s why the company is working with Ericsson to open something called the Innovation Lab on its campus. This lab will help other app makers tweak their programs so they use less data. 

Apparently Internet.org is a coalition, not just a Facebook-only project.

Zuckerberg emphasized that Internet.org is a collaborative effort. It was pretty unconvincing. 

The NSA surveillance debacle is still a point of contention

Nothing new was said, but Zuckerberg reiterated how frustrated he was with the government’s surveillance behavior. “I really think this whole thing could’ve been avoidable,” he said. 

He brushed off the idea that Facebook will mine WhatsApp’s message data 

Zuckerberg noted that WhatsApp’s messages are deleted soon after they are sent and implied that Facebook would not change WhatsApp’s current data processes. We’ll see about that one. As Digital Trends’ Andrew Couts puts it, “Facebook didn’t become the world’s second-largest advertising platform by ignoring the wealth of data at its finger tips. And it would, at the very least, be odd for it to start now.” 

Facebook defriended Snapchat

An audience member asked if Facebook was still interested in Snapchat and Zuckerberg made a face like he just bit into a poo-covered pretzel. When Kirkpatrick repeated the question, Zuckerberg said, “No.” And then he chuckled and said that Facebook was done buying companies for a while, since they had just made the WhatsApp purchase. 

Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Business

Singapore Airlines passengers unsettled by cameras in seat-back displays

A number of passengers flying with Singapore Airlines recently expressed concern over cameras embedded in seat-back displays on some of its aircraft, though the carrier insists the devices have been disabled.
Mobile

Worried about extra data charges? Here's how to check your usage on an iPhone

It's common to get a little nervous about nearing data limits. Keep your peace of mind by checking how much data your iPhone is using. Our guide on how to check data usage on an iPhone helps you stay in control.
Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.
Photography

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 
Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own live video tool

Live video is coming to LinkedIn for businesses and individuals on the site. The livestreaming feature is launching in beta in the U.S. before rolling out to the entire community.