Facebook eyes growth potential in India; targets local content

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New Delhi, Oct 9: Bullish on the exponential growth potential of India, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social networking giant is looking at a deeper engagement with government in expanding Internet penetration to villages and promoting creation of regional content.

The CEO of the California-headquartered firm, who is on his first visit to India, said that Internet connectivity should be considered as one of the basic rights of the people.

Counted among the youngest tech billionaires globally, Zuckerberg, who began his two-day visit to India today, said he is excited to help the government in its ambitious Digital India programme.

"India is an amazing country with unlimited potential. It is a place of big ambitions and Facebook is deeply committed to the country. We see lot of growth for us here. Tomorrow I am meeting the Prime Minister. He is committed to connecting villages online and we are excited to see how Facebook can help," he said at the Internet.org Summit.

India has about 243 million Internet users and have 100 million plus Facebook users, but there are over a billion people in the country who do not have access to the net, he added.

Zuckerberg is the third high profile CEO of a US-based firm, after Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Satya Nadella, to visit India in last few days.

He announced that Facebook is creating a USD 1 million fund to help developers develop apps for farmers, migrants and women. This will be a contest to drive new apps and services in local languages.

"Since 2007, Facebook has been working on new apps and services in local languages. About 65 per cent use Facebook in a language other than English, including 10 Indian languages," he added.

He said that lack of relevant local language content is the biggest barrier to 4.4 billion people globally who don't have Internet access.

Terming connectivity as a human right, he said Facebook is committed to building an Internet that works for everyone and is not a "privilege of the rich and powerful".

PTI

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