Where to get free computer and internet access in Philadelphia

Having computer access and reliable internet is a necessity for nearly all aspects of life — applying for jobs, filing taxes, even going to school or work — and it can be challenging if you live in a household without a computer and internet. In Philadelphia, this is a reality for many.

According to recent Census Bureau statistics, Philadelphia ranks as having the fourth-highest percentage of households without internet access out of the country’s largest cities — meaning more than 98,000 homes don’t have access.

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“Even prior to the pandemic, in order to apply for a housekeeping job at area hotels, you needed to apply online … What were people [without computer access] to do?” says Lori Morse, a library supervisor at the Parkway Central Library.

In Philly, there are programs designed to help, including at community centers and libraries, and programs where you can get a computer, or internet access, for free.

Here’s where you can use a computer for free in Philadelphia and some programs to get a free computer of your own.

You can use a computer with internet access at any Free Library of Philadelphia branch if you have a library card. Most libraries even offer printing and copying services at 25 cents per page. Anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in Philly can get a library card at no cost. Additionally, Pennsylvania residents can get a Philadelphia library card. You can sign up for a card online, or go to your nearest branch to have a librarian help you sign up. Check out our guide to all the things your library card gets you. The full list of Free Library locations is available here.

If you’re looking for a job, trying to start a business, or find a new career, the Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC) offers a variety of services and learning opportunities, such as career workshops, job

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Facebook Promised Poor Countries Free Internet. People Got Charged Anyway.

Facebook says it’s helping millions of the world’s poorest people get online through apps and services that allow them to use internet data free. Internal company documents show that many of these people end up being charged in amounts that collectively add up to an estimated millions of dollars a month.

To attract new users, Facebook made deals with cellular carriers in countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines to let low-income people use a limited version of Facebook and browse some other websites without data charges. Many of the users have inexpensive cellphone plans that cost just a few dollars a month, often prepaid, for phone service and a small amount of internet data.

Because of software problems at Facebook, which it has known about and failed to correct for months, people using the apps in free mode are getting unexpectedly charged by local cellular carriers for using data. In many cases they only discover this when their prepaid plans are drained of funds.

In internal documents, employees of Facebook parent

Meta Platforms Inc.

FB -2.40%

acknowledge this is a problem. Charging people for services Facebook says are free “breaches our transparency principle,” an employee wrote in an October memo.

In the year ended July 2021, charges made by the cellular carriers to users of Facebook’s free-data products grew to an estimated total of $7.8 million a month, when purchasing power adjustments were made, from about $1.3 million a year earlier, according to a Facebook document.

Mir Zaman, right, who owns a convenience store in Muzaffarabad, transfers mobile data to customer Sheikh Imran.



Photo:

Saiyna Bashir for The Wall Street Journal

The documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal were written in the fall of 2021 and are not part of the information made public by whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager.

Facebook calls the problem “leakage,” since paid services are leaking into the free apps and services. It defines leakage in internal documents as, “When users are in Free Mode and believe that the data they are using is being covered by their carrier networks, even

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