Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is coming to India to host a Townhall Q&A at IIT-Delhi on October 28. Zuckerberg confirmed this news via a post on his Facebook page. This follows on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Facebook HQ, where he took part in a similar Q&A session just a month ago.
In the post, Zuckerberg noted that over 130 million people in India use Facebook, and that he’s looking forward to hearing from “one of our most active and engaged communities.” He’s also asked people to leave questions for the session, directly on the Facebook post, so if you want to know something you can head over and ask; or you could ‘like’ posts to vote for questions already being asked. Funnily enough, the most up-voted question at this point is one that’s asking Facebook to delete the game Candy Crush.
Last month in Palo Alto, Zuckerberg hosted PM Modi for a Townhall Q&A session. “India is personally very important to the history of our company here. This is a story that I have not told publicly and very few people know,” he said at the Facebook headquarters on September 27. “Early on in our history, before things were really going well and we had hit a tough patch, and a lot of people wanted to buy Facebook and thought we should sell the company,” said Zuckerberg. “I went and saw one of my mentors, Steve Jobs, and he told me that in order to reconnect with what I believed is the mission of the company, I should visit this temple that he had gone to in India early in his evolution of thinking about what he wanted Apple and his vision of the future to be.”
“So I went and I travelled for almost a month and seeing the people, seeing how people connected, and having the opportunity to feel how much better the world could be if everyone had a stronger ability to connect, reinforced for me the importance of what we were doing,” said Zuckerberg. “And that is something I have always remembered over the last ten years as we built Facebook.”
This visit also comes right after the announcement of Free Basics, the rebranded version of the controversial Internet.org program. India has, in some ways, become a test-bed for the service, which has raised a number of questions around net neutrality. In India, Internet.org arrived at the same time as a growing debate around Internet regulation, and moves by telcos to introduce zero ratings plans triggered serious backlash.
Internet.org also got caught up in this, and has been the centre of a lot of controversy in India since then. Facebook has been aggressively trying to market Internet.org/ Free Basics in India, with advertising, SMS, and Facebook-based campaigns, and of course, meetings with political leaders. This upcoming visit by Zuckerberg is looks to be an extension of this same charm offensive.