Facebook's Zuckerberg in India to get 'next billion online'

October 28, 2015
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right) attend a Townhall meeting, at Facebook headquarters
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attend a Townhall meeting, at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SUSANA BATES

Facebook chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday he believes India will be crucial to getting "the next billion online" and helping to alleviate poverty.

Speaking to about 900 students at New Delhi's Indian Institute of Technology, Zuckerberg said broadening Internet access was vital to in a country where a billion are still not online.

"If you really have a mission of connecting every person in the world you can't do that without connecting people in India," Zuckerberg, dressed in a grey T-shirt and dark jeans, told the audience.

"We have the second biggest community in India and we want the next billion to come online," he said, adding that Internet access helps create jobs and lift people out of poverty.

India is Facebook's second biggest market after the United States, with about 130 million of its 1.5 billion worldwide users, making it critically important for the site which is banned in China.

The 31-year-old billionaire gave lighthearted answers to questions including "Why do I get so many requests for (online game) Candy Crush?" and "If you could have a supernatural power what would you wish for?"

But he also vigorously defended Facebook's controversial Internet.org project, which provides free access to the Internet, mainly in poor rural communities, in 24 countries including India.

Critics of Internet.org say it violates net neutrality—the principle that companies providing Internet access should not favour some sites or restrict access to others.

"We have a moral responsibility to look out for people who do not have the Internet... and make sure the rules don't get twisted to hurt people who don't have a voice," Zuckerberg said, adding that the programme had brought a million Indians online.

Facebook is also exploring new ways to increase access in hard-to-reach areas, he said, such as solar-powered planes to "beam down connectivity" and data-light apps that work on slow 2G networks.

Zuckerberg's trip came after a weekend visit to Tsinghua university in Beijing where he delivered a 20-minute speech in Mandarin, a language he has been studying since 2010.

He met India's tech-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month when the premier toured Facebook on a visit to Silicon Valley, advocating the political power of social media.

Explore further: Facebook founder aims to get India online

Related Stories

Facebook founder aims to get India online

October 9, 2014

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday his social media network wanted to help India's new prime minister connect remote villages in the country of over 1.2 billion to the Internet.

Facebook opens up Internet.org after neutrality flap

May 4, 2015

Facebook said Monday it was opening up Internet.org, which provides connectivity to people in developing nations, to outside applications following a controversy over its limited set of online services.

Modi touts social media, tech development in Facebook visit

September 27, 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touted the power of social media and his own goals for developing India's tech economy on Sunday, speaking to a global audience from a "town hall" meeting at the headquarters of the world's ...

Recommended for you

Technology near for real-time TV political fact checks

January 18, 2019

A Duke University team expects to have a product available for election year that will allow television networks to offer real-time fact checks onscreen when a politician makes a questionable claim during a speech or debate.

Privacy becomes a selling point at tech show

January 7, 2019

Apple is not among the exhibitors at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, but that didn't prevent the iPhone maker from sending a message to attendees on a large billboard.

China's Huawei unveils chip for global big data market

January 7, 2019

Huawei Technologies Ltd. showed off a new processor chip for data centers and cloud computing Monday, expanding into new and growing markets despite Western warnings the company might be a security risk.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.