Facebook's Zuckerberg talks terrorism, entrepreneurship

During a town hall event in Colombia, Facebook CEO discusses his company's place in world in the wake of last week's Paris attacks. He also says starting a company isn't as hard as you think.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

Mark Zuckerberg discussed terrorism, Internet connectivity and entrepreneurship while traveling to Colombia. Screen capture by Claudia Cruz/CNET

Facebook's CEO touted the company's sharing and messaging tools as an important component of free speech as he also talked up his Internet.org initiative at a public forum in Wednesday in Columbia.

Following the terrorist attacks in France last week, Mark Zuckerberg spoke about how Facebook efforts to connect people around the world play into it all.

To him, the murders that happened at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were part of a larger struggle around the world about freedom of speech.

"We're trying to connect everyone in the world and give everyone a voice," he said. "This is about freedom of expression."

Zuckerberg's comments came during a town-hall style event, the third public forum he's held and the first one outside the US. He traveled to Colombia as part of an effort, called Internet.org, to spread free or low-cost Internet connections around the globe. There, he said Facebook struck an agreement for free access to limited Internet connections for cell phones throughout the country.

Much of Facebook has been reoriented around this effort, Zuckerberg said. The company's staff has built a laboratory that simulates Internet connections in other countries, in an effort to help engineers build their apps and services for broader audiences. And it's already bearing fruit: today, Facebook's mobile application uses 10 percent of the data it did in a year and a half ago, he said.

As part of his talk, Zuckerberg also discussed his philosophy about running a startup. The typical narrative of a founder or group of co-founders having a moment of inspiration that leads to building a multibillion dollar company isn't really how it works.

"Ideas typically do not just come to you," he said. "They happen because you've been talking to people for a long time."

The typical Silicon Valley story, which often focuses on a small group of people at the center of a company, makes entrepreneurship look harder than it is, he added. "It's discouraging to people to do things," he added. "This stuff isn't as crazy and challenging as the media makes it sound."