Feb 28, 2017

Facebook laying groundwork for push into Africa

Alessio Jacona / Flickr cc

Per Recode, Facebook is planning to improve access to wireless internet in Africa by laying nearly 500 miles of fiber optic cable across the continent. The tech giant will partner with Airtel and BCS to provide internet service.

Facebook has been ramping up efforts to expand its user base in Africa for years, opening up its first office in Johannesburg in 2015 and launching a satellite to expand rural Internet access in Africa in 2016. Alphabet, Google's parent company, has taken similar steps to expand internet usage in the U.S., though their efforts have recently stalled.

Why it matters: With saturated reach amongst globalized populations, Facebook is moving to corner the African market, where less than thirty percent of the population has access to the internet. While more than half of the continent's Internet-using population uses Facebook, its reach has plateaued due to transmission inefficiency that makes data costs high. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has called internet access a human right and earlier this year, he announced that building infrastructure and expanding Internet access are a part of Facebook's global vision.

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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World