Here’s What Happened When Mark Zuckerberg Met the Pope

Facebook founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the so-called "Facebook Innovation Hub" in Berlin on February 25, 2016. Facebook announced it was donating computer servers to a number of research institutions across Europe, starting with Germany, to accelerate research efforts in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. / AFP / dpa / Kay Nietfeld / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Kay Nietfeld — AFP/Getty Images

During his trip to Italy, Mark Zuckerberg made sure to pencil the Pope into his schedule.

On Monday, the Facebook (FB) CEO and his wife, Priscilla Chan, met with Pope Francis to discuss “how to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and to communicate a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged,” according to a statement from the Vatican press office obtained by CNN.

Zuckerberg has made it his mission to bring the Internet to those around the world who don’t have access. Last year, he announced a plan to provide refugee camps with Internet access, which is a small part of a larger global connectivity plan he’s working on with rock star Bono. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Zuckerberg and the U2 frontman detailed their plan to get everyone online by 2020, a step they believe is “necessary for development.”

On his Facebook page, Zuckerberg posted a picture of him giving Pope Francis an Aquila—Facebook’s solar-powered drone designed to help the Internet expand to and improve in developing countries. The aircraft successfully completed its first test flight just two months ago.

Priscilla and I had the honor of meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican. We told him how much we admire his message of…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, August 29, 2016

Italy was hit by an earthquake last week that killed nearly 300 people and injured hundreds of others. Soon afterward, Zuckerberg announced that he would be taking a trip to the country. It’s uncertain whether he’ll visit the cities affected by the natural disaster, though he did host a live question and answer session in Rome on Monday.

During the Q&A, Zuckerberg answered questions about people increasingly looking to social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter (TWTR), to get their news. While he said there are “advantages to obtaining information from different parts of the world,” he shot down rumors that Facebook was becoming a news outlet.

“We are a tech company, not a media company,” Zuckerberg said.


Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment.

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