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. 

Gaming

The history of Battle Royale: From mod to worldwide phenomenon

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in streaming and eSports in a way that might hint at the future of the industry.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Digital Trends Live

Cryptocurrency investor Ian Balina sees a comeback for cryptocurrency in 2019

We chatted with crypto investor Ian Balina on what the future is for cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin. He also gave us three things to look for when we are investing our own money.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

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

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.