" />

SpaceX, Facebook Internet from above: Digital Colonialism or Liberation?

SpaceX, Facebook Internet from above: Digital Colonialism or Liberation?

SpaceX plans to beam internet from space to the entire planet while Facebook’s Aquila drone aims to bring limited internet access from above.

Who will control the future of internet connectivity? Will it be open and available to all, or will it be privatized and controlled by a few? The same argument being made with respect to the future of Artificial Intelligence.

Elon Musk, through his OpenAI, Tesla, and SpaceX initiatives, has demonstrated time and again that his mission is to make the technologies open and available for the public good. His incredible wealth, influence, and power make him a highly scrutinized target, as many people in his position would succumb to some type of corruption as the old dictum states, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Read More: Partnership on AI vs OpenAI: Consolidation of Power vs Open Source

It is healthy to keep a skeptic mind when considering people of considerable power; however, it is easier to be skeptical of Facebook over SpaceX when it comes to connecting the entire world to the internet. This is because Facebook has continuously and openly declared that it wishes to beam its own, limited version of the internet, Internet.org, to the world via drones.

SpaceX on the other hand, has kept quiet about which type of connectivity it wishes to make available, and whether or not it will be monetarily “free” for all. In other words, we still don’t know whether there would be access restrictions to certain areas of the internet, or whether the internet will only be available to those who can afford it.

What need will there be for Facebook’s Aquila drone carrying limited internet connectivity to developing countries if Musk’s SpaceX is successful?

Will SpaceX deliver where Facebook limits?

Both SpaceX and Facebook have had setbacks with their respective aircraft. Bloomberg reported on Monday that a US safety agency is investigating an accident involving Aquila, and the reason for the explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in September, which also was equipped with a Facebook satellite, was made public earlier this month.

The official theory for the cause of the Falcon 9 explosion was that the rocket’s super-cooled, solid oxygen “may have ignited one of three carbon composite helium containers inside the oxygen tank, triggering the explosion.”

Since Falcon 9 was carrying a Facebook satellite that exploded, rumors speculating sabotage still abound on the internet. Some even proposed that a UFO passed by at the exact moment of the explosion.

Now that SpaceX is due for another launch in the coming weeks, its payload has not been verified, so it may or may not be carrying another Facebook satellite. Zuckerberg did not seem at all pleased with Musk after September’s explosion, and rightfully so.

Will this be where SpaceX cuts its ties with Facebook, giving them the proverbial middle finger while literally soaring above the competition to usher in a new era of connectivity?

Just last week, SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to launch 4,425 satellites to provide high-speed internet all over the globe.

“The [satellite] system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, government and professional users worldwide.”

According to the Guardian, the SpaceX project will cost some $10 billion, and that Google has already provided $1 billion.

Who would ultimately benefit from SpaceX’s satellites? Elon Musk? The people of the world? What type of return does Google expect on its investment, and how will Google’s relationship with the US Government, including the NSA, come into play?

Facebook’s Aquila drone could create a two-tiered monopoly

Facebook announced in July that it completed it’s first test flight of Aquila — a solar-powered drone that Facebook hopes will one day beam internet.org to developing nations.

Read More: Aquila: Facebook’s drone to monopolize connectivity in developing nations

The problem with beaming internet.org as the only available connection to the internet is that it is completely owned, operated, and controlled by Facebook.

This creates a scenario of Digital Colonialism where a rich and powerful entity comes across a poorer population with a message of liberation. This so-called liberation actually creates a monopoly where the people have no choice but to use the services and technologies being forced upon them. There is no option of choice. You take what you get.

Read More: Digital Colonialism: Facebook’s agenda to limit connectivity in developing countries

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “Our goal with Internet.org is to make affordable access to basic internet services available to every person in the world.”

However, the basic internet services do not give a lot of freedom or options to choose from, and it was even banned in India because “it had the potential to create a two-tier Internet that would divide the rich and the poor.”

But if Elon Musk were to be successful with the SpaceX satellite launch, what use would any of Facebook’s drones be?

View Comments (3)


  1. oribt1701@yahoo.com'


    November 22, 2016 at 6:29 PM

    Like William Shatners Tek War. Government and police will eventually create private security firms
    to monitor , control and limit) hacker and cyber crimes. until then freedom at a risk.

  2. Pingback: SpaceX Internet Satellites Are a Direct Threat to Price-Hiking ISPs

  3. Pingback: SpaceX to Fly Passengers Around Far Side of Moon, First Human Glimpse in 45 years

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Tim Hinchliffe is a veteran journalist whose passions include writing about how technology impacts society and Artificial Intelligence. He prefers writing in-depth, interesting features that people actually want to read. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co

More in Technology


From Waterboarding to Watermarking: CIA Implants MS Docs to Track Whistleblowers

Tim HinchliffeApril 28, 2017

Rwanda, Microsoft Partnership to Digitally Transform Education, Produce Global Citizens

Tim HinchliffeApril 27, 2017
terence mckenna

Terence McKenna’s cyberdelic evolution of consciousness as it relates to AI

Tim HinchliffeApril 26, 2017

MI5, CIA used Samsung Smart TVs to secretly listen-in on conversations: WikiLeaks

Tim HinchliffeApril 21, 2017

Ballmer’s USAFacts, black budget projects, and tracking unofficial govt spending

Tim HinchliffeApril 19, 2017
artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Market Growing at 63%, Expected to Reach $16B by 2022: Report

Tim HinchliffeApril 18, 2017
ridley scott

Ridley Scott’s film studio launches VR division to accompany blockbuster hits

Tim HinchliffeApril 17, 2017
artificial intelligence

The Story Of Artificial Intelligence As Told By The Ancient Mayan Popol Vuh

Tim HinchliffeApril 13, 2017
study abroad

iXperience Has Re-invented the Study Abroad Experience for Business, Tech Students

Melissa ThompsonApril 12, 2017