Facebook’s Founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to India, following global CEOs Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has been in media spotlight for several reasons.
Zuckerberg met PM Modi and showed keen interest in Facebook contributing to Digital India agenda, Clean India mobile app to help the Swacch Bharat mission and discussed with the PM how to increase internet literacy along with connectivity. A statement from PMO said that PM Modi sought Zuckerberg’s advice and help to promote tourism to India and help combat terrorism.
The visit was much appreciated for the kind of initiatives Zuckerberg announced. He proposed a pilot project to employ drones for better broadband connectivity in remote areas, in fact India could be the first country to witness such an initiative. He also proposed that Facebook could positively contribute to National Optical Fibre Network programme (NOFN) to provide villages with high-speed internet and the intent to set up a server in India for drone generated data transmission.
Zuckerberg even visited a village in Rajasthan’s Alwar district called Chandoli, visited school children and discussed how the place is helping internet connectivity to improve.
While media platforms covered every step of Zuckerberg’s visit extensively, there has been some disappointment with the visit too.
At his keynote speech at internet.org summit in Delhi, Zuckerberg spoke about major barriers that prevent Indians from being connected with the rest of the world. These are infrastructure barriers, economic barriers in terms of affordability and social barriers where he stated that “80% of the content on the internet is in just 10 languages. This plays a major role in rural India to adopt internet as their solution for any content.” Zuckerberg also announced “We’ve a fund of $1 million to help the developers build and scale apps that will help farmers and migrant workers and students and women and we’re going to fund top apps in each of these categories.”
Post the speech, Zuckerberg answered questions fielded by media; however, reportedly, several members of the media have shown disappointment with his interaction stating he gave preference to international media, neglecting questions from Indian/regional media, especially having stressed on the importance of local language content. It is also being said that the questions seemed to be pre-censored and the press conference was cautiously controlled.
Below are some tweets on the press conference:
rama lakshmi @RamaNewDelhi
At Facebook event to expand online population, MarkZuckerberg spoke of local language content deficit. Yet no non- English media at presser!
3:29 PM - 9 Oct 2014
Madhavan Narayanan @madversity
Facebook seems to have censored questions at press condference. Shame.
3:26 PM - 9 Oct 2014
Pre screened, 'censored' questions at the Facebook press conference today...and the media persons handling the press obnoxious!
3:30 PM - 9 Oct 2014
shocked at the 'censorship' of questions by Facebook. No tv journo allowed a question, most Qs given to international media. No explanations
3:38 PM - 9 Oct 2014