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Zuckerberg could face gritty questions at Facebook townhall in Bogota, Colombia

Zuckerberg could face gritty questions at Facebook townhall in Bogota, Colombia

Social inequality and Colombia's drug problems are among the topics being asked about

Facebook users in Latin America will have a chance to pepper Mark Zuckerberg with questions next week when he heads to Bogota, Colombia, for Facebook's first international townhall Q&A.

The social network has held two Q&A sessions so far, both in the U.S., but this third one could see some grittier topics raised, judging from questions submitted so far online.

"Latin American countries have many problems like socioeconomic inequality, lack of education and violations against free expression. How could Facebook be used as a tool to try to fix [these] problems, working along with the governments of each country?" asked one Colombian teenager.

It was one of more than a thousand comments submitted Friday in the lead-up to the event, which will take place Wednesday and be broadcast online.

The teenager also wanted to know if Facebook could organize a public awareness campaign to dispel stereotypes around drug trafficking in Colombia.

Others have concerns about access to the Internet. "How will Facebook help Latin American people to be more connected to the Internet considering the difficulties of our region?" one person asked.

Zuckerberg will take questions from a live audience as well as questions submitted online. Anyone can submit questions, though the event is geared toward people in Colombia and Latin America. Questions in both Spanish and English have been submitted in advance.

A person from Ecuador wanted to know how Facebook can help with technology education.

"A while back you mentioned how important it is for people to learn basic programming and coding. ... Would you consider opening up a series of educational centers across the country ... to focus specifically on those subjects and make it affordable for people?"

Some questions touch on issues Facebook is trying to address through its Internet.org project, which seeks to bring affordable Internet to parts of the world where it's absent today. The Q&A might reveal new information about Facebook's Internet.org plans in the region.

Other users have questions about Facebook's language translation tools, while some want to know if it will back startups in Colombia.

The two previous town halls tended to address lighter topics, including why Facebook required users to install Messenger, the growth of video and Zuckerberg's wardrobe, though questions about education and entrepreneurship surfaced too.

For the upcoming Q&A, people still have plenty of questions about Facebook features -- especially requests for new ones.

"Can you install an 'I've read this' button so we won't continue to see post[s] we have already read several times?" asked a user from St. Petersburg, Florida, whose question garnered more than 80 likes.

Some are bored with the look of Facebook and want more options to customize their profiles.

"Why [is] Facebook blue and not orange?" wrote a person from Chile.

"Can you add an option to change the Facebook theme?" said another.

Several others wanted a way to publish audio posts instead of just text and video.

One of the questions for Zuckerberg was deeply personal and philosophical.

"You are rich enough to not be motivated anymore by money," a user wrote. "You and your company are well known enough not to be motivated by recognition, and Facebook's powerful ability to act as a catalyst continues to grow. So I would like to know, what motivates you now?"

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com


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