Facebook deals with political controversy in India, monetization opportunities, initial investments – TechCrunch


At first of the previous decade, Facebook had a small presence in India. He had just begun to slowly expand his team in the country and was working closely with telecom operators to gain access to his gift service for users as well. offers incentives such as free voice credit.

India’s internet population, now the second largest with over 500 million connected users, was itself very small. At the beginning of 2011, the country had less than 100 million internet users.

Ma Facebook ended up playing a crucial role in the last decade. So much so that by the end of it, the social juggernaut had reached almost every Internet user in the country. WhatsApp it only reaches more than 400 million Internet users in India, more than any other app in the country, according to mobile insight firm Annie.

This Facebook reach in India has not gone unnoticed. Nowadays, the country’s politicians rely heavily on Facebook services, including WhatsApp, to get their message across But it has also complicated things.

Rumors have spread on WhatsApp that cost lives, and politicians from India’s two largest political parties in recent weeks have accused the company of showing favoritism to the other side.

To address these issues, and the role that Facebook wants to play in India, Ajit Mohan, the head of society’s affairs in the country, he went on to Disrupt 2020. Here are some of the highlights.

On the controversy

A recent one report in WSJ he said Ankhi Das, one of Facebook’s top leaders in India, has decided not to leave a post by a ruling party politician. He did so, the report said, because he feared it could damage the company’s prospects in India.

In Mohan’s first interview since the controversy erupted, he rejected claims that every executive in the country has the power to influence how Facebook imposes its content policy.

“We believe it’s important for us to be open and neutral and non-partisan,” he said. “We have a deep belief and conviction that our enabling role is as a neutral party that allows speeches of all kinds, that allows for expression of all genres, including political expression, and many of the guidelines that we have. developed to ensure that we allow our diversity of expression and opinion to be maintained as long as we can ensure that the safety and security of people are protected. ”

Mohan said the internal processes and systems on Facebook are designed to ensure that any opinion and preference of an employee or group of employees is “sufficiently separate from the company and the company’s objective application of its own. policies “.

He said individuals can offer input on decisions, but no one – including Ankhi Das – can unilaterally influence the decision Facebook makes for content application.

“We also allow free expression within the company. We have no limitations for people expressing their point of view, but we see it separately from the application of our content policy. […] Content policy itself, in the context of India, is a team that differs from the public policy team that is led by Ankhi, ”he added.

This photo illustration shows an Indian newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full-page WhatsApp ad intended to counter false information, in New Delhi on July 10, 2018. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

In India it is monetization

Although Facebook has amassed hundreds of millions of users in India, the world’s second largest market contributes little to its results. So why is Facebook so concerned about the country?

“India is in the midst of a very exciting economic and social transformation where digital has a massive role to play. In the last four years alone, more than 500 million users have come online. The pace of this transformation it probably has no parallel either in human history or in the digital transformation that is happening in the countries of the world, ”he said.

“For a society like ours, if you look at the family of apps through WhatsApp and Instagram, we believe we have a useful role to play in fueling this transformation,” he said.

Although Facebook does not generate much revenue from India, Mohan said the company has established itself as one of the most trusted platforms for marketers. “They look at us as a material partner in their marketing agenda,” he said.

He said the company hopes that advertising as a GDP will grow in India. “So, advertising revenues will become substantial over time,” he said.

For Facebook, India is also crucial because it allows society to build some unique products that solve problems for India but could be replicated in other markets. The company is currently in testing a WhatsApp integration, which currently does not have a business model despite having it more than 2 billion users, with new Indian e-commerce JioMart, to allow users to easily track their orders.

“We think there is an opportunity to build the first models in India, to experiment on a scale, and in a world where we are successful, we see a great opportunity to take some of these models to the world,” he said.

Facebook as VC

Facebook doesn’t usually invest in startups. But in India, the company has invested in social trading company Meesho, Unacademy online learning platform – it is too participated in his next round – and wrote a $ 5.7 billion in checks to Jio Platforms earlier this year. So why is Facebook taking this investment route in India?

“We wanted to create a program to take minority investments in startups in the early stages to understand how we can be useful to startup founders and the ecosystem as a whole. The starting point was to support teams that build models that in a certain way.” way they were unique to India and could become global.Then we made an investment in it Meesho, they have made a strong push in Indonesia. That’s the kind of company where we feel we can add value and we can learn from these startups, ”he said.

The partnership with Jio Platforms follows a different reasoning. “The transformation we have been talking about in India in recent years has activated Jio,” he said. Aside from that, Facebook is exploring ways to work with Jio, such as through its partnership with Jio’s JioMart company. “It can really feed the small and medium enterprise which is good for the Indian economy,” he said.

Mohan said the company continues to explore more opportunities in Indian startups, particularly with those where teams think Facebook can add value, but said there is no mandate for Facebook to invest, say dozens of startups in three at four years old. “It’s not a volume game,” he said.

During the Q&A part of the interview, Mohan was asked if Reliance Industries, which operates Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, will receive special access to Facebook services. What if Amazon, BigBasket, Grofers, or Flipkart want to integrate with WhatsApp as well? Mohan said the Facebook platform is open to every business and that everyone will receive the same level of access and opportunities.

In the interview, Mohan, who ran the Disney-run Hotstar on-demand streaming service in India, also talked about the growing use of video in India, the status of the implementation of WhatsApp Pay in the country, what Facebook thinks of India’s ban on l ‘Chinese applications, and much more. You can see the full interview below.

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