Facebook reports earnings

Facebook reports earnings

Facebook is expected to announce its quarterly earnings on Wednesday, which are forecast to top $8.5 billion ­– up 46%

Photo: Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Photo: Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Facebook is expected to announce its quarterly earnings on Wednesday, which are forecast to top $8.5 billion ­– up 46% since last year.

Such stellar growth has allowed the social media behemoth to dream big. It’s embarking on an ambitious project to reach the 4.5 billion people still without access to the internet. Cue Internet.org.

Rebranded as Free Basics, the service provides free, bare-bones access to Facebook and 300 other websites in 38 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. To deepen penetration in developing countries, Facebook’s R&D division is now pushing towards a 2017 deadline to trial what will eventually be a fleet of 10,000 passenger jet-sized drones equipped with data-transferring laser technology.

In 2016, at least 11 African governments suspended internet services. Facebook’s burgeoning internet infrastructure might one day prove to be a wily way around government-limited internet access – and perhaps even a formidable tool for political change.