Updated: October 28, 2015 8:17:39 am
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes questions from a gathering of students at IIT-Delhi on Wednesday, he will be trying to inspire the 900-strong audience and also get a sense of what India’s young feel about him and his 10-year-old company.
Facebook has already over 135 million users in India and that number is significant in more ways than one: it represents over a tenth of the social media giant’s global reach and by all indications this number will swell in a year or so swell to become its largest chunk, overtaking even his home turf, the United States.
And that is why the one hour during which Zuckerberg will take questions from IIT students is important for the company. Given that they have been taking a bit of criticism lately from some quarters for the way in which they have rolled out the free websites service — initially called Internet.org and now rechristened Free Basics — under its larger umbrella, they might just get a better sense of whether the message is being delivered correctly or not. Zuckerberg should also able to gauge the ambitions and aspirations of India’s youth which forms a large chunk of the country’s population as well as Facebook’s user base.
If the Town Hall Zuckerberg had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month in the US was any indication, it is unlikely that there will be any tough questions tomorrow. However, there is every possibility that Zuckerberg will elaborate on his vision of taking the Internet to everyone, everywhere. Though he has clarified more than once what Internet.org and Free Basics hope to achieve, underlining that point again in India will be making a statement.
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