Mark Zuckerberg on why he’s showing so much interest in India

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | One comment »

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg at IIT Delhi: Top 10 key takeaways.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has hit out at net neutrality advocates who claim that zero-rating – the practice of offering access to certain popular online services for free – should be prohibited.Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage for a Townhall Q&A at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi today, where he revealed a handful of new stats and fielded questions from the packed audience. The visit represented part of a whistle-stop tour of Asia which also saw the Facebook chief give a speech at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, where he took the opportunity not only to compliment and court key people, but also show-off his improving Mandarin. Though he did use his time on-stage to reveal that Facebook was to start blocking all those unwanted Candy Crush Saga invites, the India visit was always going to be heavily focused on, the company’s polarizing free-Internet program that was recently rebranded as Free Basics.

He also said that the company’s initiative – which provides free access to a selection of web services including Facebook, Google Search, Wikipedia, AccuWeather and BBC News via a mobile app – is built on an open platform, with no throttling or filtering. “When you have a student who is getting free access to the internet to help do her homework, and she wouldn’t have had access otherwise, who’s getting hurt there? The first question Zuck faced was perhaps one that was on everyone’s lips, and it drew a raucous laugh: Why is Facebook showing so much interest in India? For all the people who don’t have access to schools, to have access to information online is important.” 7. “One of the great things about technology is you can build superpowers for the people around the world. One of the amazing things would be if you could put on the headset and connect with someone in a different way in another location and play ping-pong with that person. We need to get everyone on the internet.” “I see these petitions going around about net neutrality and that’s great, we need to mobilise on the internet on this stuff.

By 2017, it’s thought that there will be as many as 500 million people in India with some form of Internet access, thanks in part to the prevalence of cheap smartphones and 2G subscriptions. India represents one of Facebook’s biggest potential growth markets, one that could help drive its current monthly active user (MAU) count past the magic 2 billion mark.

But Facebook’s well-honed mantra of “connecting people” remains the official public line, and you can’t actually argue with that — it genuinely does want to connect the next billion people. Travel portal and media giant Times Group both announced that they would be withdrawing from the service, citing competition fears, and Times Group also called on other publishers to do the same. Because they’re worth a lot of money. “Our mission is to give everyone in the world the power to share what’s important to them and to connect every person in the world,” explained Zuckerberg. “And India is the world’s largest democracy.

The criticism has been more about how it selects the services that are offered for free through the app — Facebook itself features prominently as a so-called zero-rating service that attracts no data charges, as do some other local services. As well as the app, the partnership is also looking at providing internet access in places that are currently unconnected using solar-powered drones, which can beam down laser-guided internet signals from the sky.

Protecting net neutrality has been the core concern, and this is why Facebook recently opened things up to let any developer include their services in

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