Last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a town hall Q&A session at Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park. Exactly a month later, Zuckerberg visited India and addressed a Q&A session at Delhi-IIT. Addressing the crowd, Zuckerberg answered a handful of questions on topics ranging from the Internet.org and Free Basics to the issue of Net Neutrality.
One of the first questions asked to Zuckerberg was about Facebook’s interest in India, to which he started by revealing some numbers and also mentioned how Internet connectivity can improve people’s life. While there are 132 million active users in India, there are still billions of people who are unconnected.
“We won’t be able to achieve our mission of connecting the world without connecting India,” Zuckerberg said. Citing some researches, he also mentioned that one in every 10 people with Internet access finds a job, which also helps in lifting poverty in India.
One gentleman asked what is Facebook doing to get rid of those annoying Candy Crush requests, to which Zuckerberg said that his team is working with the developers to come up with a solution for that.
Another question was from a lady who is a railway employee and a sports person. She asked on how Facebook aims to connect people who don’t have internet connectivity or a social account. Answering this question, Zuckerberg talked about Internet.org which is already being used by 15 million people from across the globe, with one million in India itself.
Zuckerberg also talked about three reasons on why people may not have internet access – availability, affordability and awareness. He said, with Internet.org platform, Facebook will offer users with access to basic services such as Wikipedia, job listings and news among others. The service aims to create awareness about importance of Internet among people.
Talking on how Facebook plans to get these services to the masses, Zuckerberg mentioned about the space satellite and solar planes (unmanned drones) to beam Internet to rural areas. However, he also mentioned that only basic services will be offered for free, whereas for advance services such as content downloading and high-quality video streaming, users will have to pay. He further added saying that the new and improved Facebook now only consumes a tenth of data.
Another interesting question asked to Zuckerberg was how Oculus Rift fits into social media. He started by pointing out that videos are now playing an important role and have become more immersive than they were before. “We are now entering the golden age of video, and content is becoming richer in the form of videos, he said. But at the moment videos are restricted to small 2D screens and Facebook wants to make watching videos a much richer experience,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg gave an example by saying he and his wife Priscilla are expecting a daughter. With virtual reality, the couple plans to share her first step on social media. He also pointed out that by putting the headset, people can virtually travel to any place across the world, without actually being there. With Oculus Rift and virtual reality, Facebook plans to offer users with a rich video experience.
Lastly, there was a question that people were expecting Zuckerberg to answer – does Internet.org support Net Neutrality? Making things clear, he said Internet.org completely supports Net Neutrality. However, Zuckerberg also stressed on having regulations and Zero Rating programs to ensure it doesn’t hurt people. He also mentioned that in countries like the US and EU, governments are dealing with Zero Rating programs.
Defending Free Basics, Zuckerberg said that the program only aims towards connecting the unconnected to internet. Internet.org will be a platform for select services, but the main question that still remains – why does Facebook get to choose which services to offer, and which not to.
Zuckerberg also took a dig at people who filed the petitions for Net Neutrality, saying the ones who support it are those who are already connected to the internet. He concluded by saying “We all have moral responsibility… get twisted to hurt people who don’t have a voice.”