Facebook reports on why people around the world aren’t online – what can we learn in MN?

Facebook just published a report on the digital divide…

The world took yet another small step towards becoming fully connected in 2015. An estimated 3.2 billion people are now online, up from 3 billion in 2014, according to a new report published by Facebook. But this means that a further 4.1 billion people, over half of the world’s population, are without any internet connection at all.

Theyfacebook found 4 reasons people are not online:

  1. Availability
  2. Affordability
  3. Relevance
  4. Readiness

Last year the Daily Yonder reported the reasons they found that people are not online (at home):

  • No need
  • Too expensive
  • Can use elsewhere
  • Not available
  • Inadequate computer
  • Other

You can see a lot of overlap but there are some interesting things to be learned by looking at the global perspective.

First – a key issue for relevancy in the Facebook study is language. The internet has come a long way – but it doesn’t cover every language and some languages obviously get more coverage than others. Something to consider when you work with new Americans and digital literacy. Can you lead them to native language resources (and lessons).

Second – the report talks about the undeniable impact of wireless/mobile and the cost. They offer some interesting solutions for pricing and extending connectivity. People are innovative; the solutions may or may not work in Minnesota (or provide speeds we might consider broadband) but they are certainly worth knowing about…

In the Philippines, for example, mobile data is packaged in a way to accommodate the realities of daily life for the poor. By allowing those with near-poverty levels of income an alternative to traditional business models, more people are gaining access at a price they can afford. [Visit the site for details.]


The costly alternative of satellite technology is also being replaced with more creative solutions including drones, balloons, low/medium earth orbit satellites and high-throughput geostationary satellites.

Third – the report recognizes that literacy, never mind digital literacy, is a barrier…

The world’s literacy rate, for example, will continue to hold back populations in India, Africa and the Middle East, regardless of their ability to access the internet.

Having kids, I know that you can create websites and apps that don’t require reading skills. Maybe some of that will help. Or maybe going online will act as a motivator for some to improve overall literacy skills. And/or maybe some folks will feel more comfortable seeking support for computer skills and that will lead to broader literacy support. I just think it’s helpful to consider what role digital literacy can play in encouraging and supporting broader literacy programs.



This entry was posted in Digital Divide, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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