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India most important market for Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who is in India at the moment, addressed a Townhall meeting at the IIT Delhi today and discussed the importance of the India market for the social networking giant.

The Townhall meetings have become a part of the Facebook community as Mr Zuckerberg says it helps them to learn from people what they need from Facebook.

The company has 130 million users in India. Mr Zuckerberg pointed out that while it is his mission to connect everyone in the world through Facebook, it cannot be done without connecting India first. “India is the world’s largest democracy and connecting people in India is one of the most important things that we can do for the people of the world,” he said.

Facebook’s Internet.org was discussed at length at the Townhall as Mr Zuckerberg explained, “We want to get the next billion people online. The three biggest issues in this are – connectivity, affordability, and awareness. These come in the way of Internet reaching out to more people and Facebook is working on fixing them.”

The top ranked question for Mr Zuckerberg was the important issue of ‘how to stop getting Candy Crush requests”. To this, he quipped, “We are working on removing this now.”

Speaking on how the future of technology would look like, Mr Zuckerberg said, “In 5 to 10 years we want to build a computer system that is better in basic human senses than humans.”

Facebook is also investing a lot on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and said it has made a feature wherein a blind person, who would not be able to see a picture, would get to know what the picture is about with the help of AI.

A Townhall Q&A in India would have been incomplete without the mention of net neutrality and Mr Zuckerberg was asked if he supports it. He replied enthusiastically, “Yeah, absolutely! We do a lot to support net neutrality principles and regulations around the world. Internet.org and Facebook support it a 100 per cent.”

However, he also explained that the support for net neutrality does not mean that the whole Internet can be provided for free. He said, “Net neutrality is an important topic and regulations are necessary. But at the same time it is possible to take this too far. Zero-rating is necessary to ensure that we are able to connect everyone to the Internet.”

The Eureka moment & supernatural powers
When Mr Zuckerberg was asked by a student what was his Eureka moment for Facebook, he explained his journey, “It wasn’t long ago that I was sitting in the audience and listening to Bill Gates at Harvard. There was not one moment when I had a revelation that Facebook would be this big. I built the first version of Facebook because I wanted to connect to people in my school. Back then it didn’t even occur to me that one day the entire world would be using it. We just kept doing the next thing and people kept saying this is just a fad.”

He gave the students a piece of advice from his own experience, “The skills you learn in college are what will help you the most. Just keep doing what you want to and do not let people get in the way.”

When asked about what supernatural powers would he want to have, Mr Zuckerberg quipped, “Great thing about technology is that you can build supernatural powers for the people. We believe that with the launch of Oculus Rift, we are enabling people to teleport.”

However, he also gave the students a word of caution on the start-up buzz taking over at the moment. He said, “Focus on what you want to do for the world and not the decision to start a company. Most people these days want to start a company before they know what they are doing. Every good company started with someone who wanted to do a particular thing.”

He also highlighted the importance of having support from other people, to start a company. He said,”Companies that were founded with more co-founders are likely to be more successful. People say that I built Facebook, Steve Jobs built Apple, but that’s not true. No one person can do that.”

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.