Facebook addresses political controversy in India, monetization opportunities, startup investments – TechCrunch

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At first During the past decade, Facebook has had a minimal presence in India. It is just starting to slowly expand its team in the country and has been making deals with telecom operators to make access to its service free for users and even Offer incentives such as free voice credit.

The number of internet users in India, which is now the second largest number of internet users with more than 500 million users, was very small. In early 2011, the state had fewer than 100 million internet users.

But The social networking site Facebook It has ended up playing a crucial role in the past decade. So much so, that by the end of it, the social juggernaut had reached almost every Internet user in the country. The WhatsApp It alone reaches more than 400 million internet users in India, more than any other app in the country, according to mobile insights company App Annie.

This access to Facebook in India did not go unnoticed. Politicians in the country today rely heavily on Facebook services, including WhatsApp, to get their message across. But it also complicated things.

Rumors have swirled on WhatsApp that cost lives, and politicians from both major political parties in India in recent weeks accused the company of Show favoritism to the other party.

To address these issues, and the role Facebook would like to play in India, Ajit Mohan, We are joined by our Country Business Head at Disrupt 2020. Here are some highlights.

In controversy

newly Report in WSJ It was alleged that Ankhi Das, a senior Facebook executive in India, had decided not to delete a post from a politician from the ruling party. The report claimed that she did so because she feared it would hurt the company’s business prospects in India.

In Mohan’s first interview since the controversy erupted, he dismissed claims that any state executive has the authority to influence how Facebook applies its content policy.

“We think it is important for us to be open, neutral and impartial,” he said. We have a deep belief and deep conviction that our empowering role is as a neutral party that allows speech of all kinds, and allows expression of all kinds, including political expression, and many of the guidelines that we have developed aim to make sure that we truly enable our diversity of expression and opinion as long as we are able to make sure. From protecting the safety and security of persons. “

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

He said that individuals can provide input on decisions, but that no one – including Ankhi Das – can unilaterally influence the decision Facebook makes about enforcement of content.

We allow freedom of expression within the company as well. We have no restrictions on people expressing their views, but we see this separately from the enforcement of our content policy. […] He added that the content policy itself, in the context of India, is a separate team from the public policy team led by Ankhi.

This photo illustration shows an Indian newspaper seller reading a newspaper with an advertisement on the entire back page of WhatsApp intended to counter the fake information, in New Delhi on July 10, 2018 (Photo by Prakash Singh / AFP)

In India, monetization

Although Facebook has amassed hundreds of millions of users in India, the second largest marketplace in the world contributes little to its bottom line. So why does Facebook care so much about the country?

“India is in the midst of a very exciting economic and social transformation where digital plays an enormous role. In the past four years alone, more than 500 million users have accessed the Internet. He said that the pace of this transformation may be unparalleled in human history or even in the digital transformation that is taking place in Countries all over the world.

He said, “For a company like ours, if you look at the family of apps via WhatsApp and Instagram, we think we have a useful role to play in fueling this shift.”

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 view us as a material partner in their marketing agenda,” he said.

He said the company was hoping that ads as a gross domestic product (GDP) would rise in India. “So over time the advertising revenue will be substantial,” he said.

For Facebook, India is also important as it allows the company to build some unique products that solve India’s problems but can be replicated in other markets. The company is currently testing WhatsApp integration, Which currently does not have a business model despite having More than 2 billion users, With JioMart New Indian E-CommerceTo allow users to easily track their orders.

“We think there is an opportunity to build models for India first, to conduct experiments on a large scale, and in a world in which we succeed, we see a huge opportunity in taking some of these models globally,” he said.

Facebook as a VC

Facebook does not usually invest in startups. But in India, the company owns it Invest in social trading company Meesho, Unacademy online learning platform – He’s rather Take part in the follow-up round – And prof A $ 5.7 billion check for 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 see how we could be beneficial to startup founders and the ecosystem as a whole. The starting point was to support teams that were building models that were unique in some respects to India and could go global. We invested in Meesho, They made strong progress in Indonesia. These are the types of companies where we feel we can add value as well as we can learn from these startups. ”

The partnership with Jio Platforms follows a different logic. “The transformation that we have been talking about in India in the last few years has been launched by Geo,” he said. Other than that, Facebook is exploring ways to work with Jio, such as its partnership with Jio’s JioMart project. “It could really feed into small and medium businesses that benefit the Indian economy,” he said.

Mohan said the company continues to explore more opportunities in Indian startups, especially with those that teams believe Facebook can add value, but he said there is no mandate whatsoever that Facebook should invest in, according to dozens of startups at Three to four companies. Years. “It is not a sound-play,” he said.

During the question-and-answer portion of the interview, Mohan was asked whether Reliance Industries, which operates the Jio and Reliance Retail platforms, would receive any exclusive access to Facebook’s services. What if Amazon, BigBasket, Grofers or Flipkart want to integrate with WhatsApp as well? Mohan said the Facebook platform is open to every company and everyone will have the same level of access and opportunities.

In the interview is Mohan, who runs Disney Hot Star India’s streaming service also talked about the growing use of video in India, the status of WhatsApp Pay being introduced in the country, what Facebook thinks about India’s blocking of Chinese apps, and much more. You can watch the full interview below.

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