Zuckerberg pokes Pope with plans to share gospel of internet in the sky

29 Aug 2016

Zuckerberg with Pope Francis today. Image via Facebook.com/MarkZuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shared the ‘good news’ with the Pope of his ambitions to beam affordable broadband via Aquila drones, 60,000sq ft up in the sky.

If Facebook was a religion it would be the third-largest in the world, after Christianity and Islam. So it is kind of fitting that the CEO of the largest social network on Earth, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, finally got to meet the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, to brief him on his global broadband plans.

Facebook’s 1.6bn followers exceed the 1.2bn members of the Catholic Church, but that doesn’t seem to have bothered Pope Francis, who appeared to have really dug Zuckerberg’s plans to cover the earth with free or affordable broadband via its Aquila internet drones.

The Facebook CEO and his wife Priscilla Chan met Pope Francis at the Vatican this afternoon (29 August), where Zuckerberg presented the Pope with a model of one of the Aquila drones.

‘We gave him [the Pope] a model of Aquila, our solar-powered aircraft that will beam internet connectivity to places that don’t have it’

Facebook plans to fill the skies with internet drones to transmit broadband in order to help raise the economic opportunities for some of the world’s most marginalised communities.

Sharing the word from above


Made of Styrofoam and carbon fibre and with a wingspan of a Boeing 737, the first Aquila drone made a successful maiden flight recently in the Arizona desert.

The plan is for Facebook to serve the world with broadband and Wi-Fi using aerial drones that stay airborne at around 60,000 feet.

“We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he’s found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world,” Zuckerberg said.

“We also discussed the importance of connecting people, especially in parts of the world without internet access. We gave him a model of Aquila, our solar-powered aircraft that will beam internet connectivity to places that don’t have it.

“And we shared our work with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to help people around the world.

It was a meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years