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. 

News

Sen. Josh Hawley wants to ban infinite scroll and autoplay videos

Sen. Josh Hawley introduced legislation on Tuesday calling for tech giants to curb deceptive techniques that fuel social media addiction.The bill would ban features that he says can be addictive to users like infinite scroll and autoplay.
Wearables

Facebook’s ‘brain-computer interface’ could let you type with your mind

Facebook talked a couple of years ago about creating technology that lets you type with your mind. Aimed primarily at patients with speech loss due to paralysis, the company recently offered an update on its ambitious project.
News

Facebook just deleted fake accounts from the Middle East

Facebook removed fake accounts from UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia because of coordinated inauthentic behavior. The social network announced in a blog post the removal of pages, groups, and accounts that originated in these countries.
News

The FTC wants to know exactly why Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp

The Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation into Facebook will focus in on its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC wants to know if Facebook tried to acquire its social media rivals before they would become a threat
News

Facebook is going to add its name to Instagram and WhatsApp

Facebook plans to add its name to both Instagram and WhatsApp as politicians call for the social media giant to be broken apart and the FTC investigates Facebook’s acquisition of both companies.
Web

These are the 10 most disliked videos on YouTube

Ever wondered which videos are the most disliked videos on YouTube? Well, we have the top ten list you’re looking for. Here are the latest videos with the most dislikes currently on YouTube.
News

WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, but no fix for its fake news problem

WhatsApp is struggling to stem the tide of fake news in India, its biggest market. In the last few years, its platform has been inundated with an around-the-clock avalanche of misinformation -- misleading mobs into lynching innocents and…
Mobile

Telegram’s new Slow Mode aims to bring order to noisy group chats

Messaging app Telegram has just released some new features that are bound to please. Slow Mode aims to bring some order to group chats, while Silent Messages ensures you won’t wake your buddy if you get in touch late in the day.
Social Media

The EU could hit Facebook with billions in fines over privacy violations

The European Union is reportedly nearing the end of its investigations into some of the cases it has opened against Facebook pertaining to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. The EU currently has 11 open cases against the…
Social Media

Quit hitting refresh: Twitter is testing a subscribe to tweet replies feature

Soon you might be able to get a push notification when a tweet has been replied to as well. Twitter is currently testing a new feature that will allow users to turn on notifications for a particular thread.
Computing

How to make a GIF from a YouTube video

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier than ever, but choosing the right tool to use isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our three favorite tools.
News

Facebook admits it was listening to your private conversations, too

Facebook outsourced contractors to listen in on your audio messenger chats and transcribe them. Contractors were not told why they were listening in or why they were transcribing them. Facebook said it is no longer transcribing audio. 
Social Media

How to add music to Instagram videos

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Mobile

The best dating apps for 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.