Today, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg posted something quite incredible – that on Monday, 1 billion people used Facebook at some point over 24 hours. That’s around one in seven people in the world.
This is clearly a triumph for Facebook, but more than that it is an unprecedented level of connectivity that seemed out of reach only a few years ago. I don’t know if there is any research that can accurately tell us how many people worldwide have internet access, it would be an incredibly difficult thing to pinpoint.
After all, it isn’t just people with home access, something that is trackable. On Monday, people in parts of South East Asia might have logged in from one of the many Internet cafés that have become an integral part of culture and society there. In parts of Africa, internet usage has pretty much bypassed the computer era altogether and run headlong into mobile phones – and Facebook is quite accessible via SMS services, even without an internet connection.
Internet access is still a privilege, (unfettered access certainly is) but it’s certainly no longer the preserve of the elite, and the number of people online grows all the time. Is it too much to hope that one day everyone (well, almost everyone) will have the opportunity to use it, with all the services and advantages it provides? A world connected not by politics or society, but by online communication, should be a goal worth striving for.