Google and Facebook have a long way to go to get the rest of the world online

For most of the US, the internet is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere from your phone to your TV. People rely on it to work, socialise, and make money.

That being the case, it’s easy to forget that simply being an internet user puts you in the minority. This chart from Statista shows just how deep the divide is: According to the ITU, the UN agency that coordinates telecommunication services around the world, global internet penetration in 2016 is estimated to be 47.1%. While 79.1% of Europe and 65% of the Americas access the internet, that figure drops closer to 40% in Asia and the Middle East, and all the way to 25% in Africa.

Major tech firms like Google and Facebook have made it a point to address this — the former with its Project Loon balloons, the latter with its initiatives. But those plans are far from perfect, to say the least. And though more people are getting online, the socioeconomic issues that keep this kind of internet inequality in place are far from diminished.

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