Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, discussed several issues on net neutrality, free internet, Facebook video, and virtual reality with students at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi.
His visit to India was announced by Mark Zuckerberg himself through a Facebook post few weeks ago. The primary focus of his visit is promoting and showing the potential of Internet.org (also known as Free Basics) in India. By showing the importance of this project on how it is helping millions of people with education, health, and their businesses by going live in just 24 countries.
During this event, Zuckerberg said that he is on a mission to connect the next billion users to the internet, and that is not possible to achieve without India. Currently, India is Facebook’s second largest community, with total of 130–million users according to Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg mentioned that, Internet.org aims to break down barriers on affordability, availability, and awareness for the people. With regard to availability, Zuckerberg discussed Facebook’s recent announcement to provide free internet from space to the sub-Saharan Africa and subsequently to other parts of the world.
As with affordability, he discussed that Facebook has been working to make company’s apps use less data, and as a result, Facebook app now uses one-tenth of data than it used before. In addition to that, Facebook recently updated its iOS app, which caused high battery drainage for users because of continuous background activity.
According to Zuckerberg, Internet.org will help people get access to basic services like Wikipedia – for education, jobs, and communication tools. When asked about Internet.org’s support for net neutrality, he clarified that,
Net neutrality is an important principle and we are supportive of it in terms of regulations and building an open platform for any developer. With Free Basics, we are letting developers offer zero-rated services.
Then defending Internet.org, he added,
You cannot have full internet for free, just the basic services. Most people pushing for net neutrality already have access to the Internet, we have a moral responsibility to those who don’t have access to Internet.
In addition to that, he said, Facebook is working to bring education related projects to India, similar to what the company is already doing in Africa. Then motivating students at the event, he added,
The stuff you are learning here are definitely the skills you need to build things. You just need to focus on the stuff you think is good for the community and don’t give up working on the things you care.
Don’t get demotivated if you make mistakes along the way, because through the mistakes, you’ll learn.
Other things discussed during the townhall were the importance of rich content like videos, and virtual reality for Facebook. Zuckerberg also mentioned that they are working on a solution to stop annoying Candy Crush requests, he joked that this seems to be an important issue that has been asked on his Facebook page several times.
In addition to Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to India, Facebook announced its new internal program – 2G Tuesdays, which allows employees to opt-in to use slow internet connection while using Facebook apps to experience the things they build on slow internet speeds, and look for improvements that can be made in order to make those apps work better, and provide better Facebook experience to users on slow internet connections. But this only lasts for an hour from their log-in and not for the whole day or so.
Overall, Facebook is trying to improve the experience for its users. Because initially, Facebook was focused only on iOS then the market shifted to Android, so did Facebook. Now, the company is trying to reach more audience, and by providing services for free would help bring in more people who could use Facebook.