Govt seeks Facebook foothold to go direct to people

Tags: News
In what was bound to happen when a social media savvy prime minister meets a social media principal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, within minutes of their meeting, posted pictures of the interaction on their respective timelines. Within an hour of that post, the PM got over 25,000 ‘likes’ and another 10,000 followed his post.

The meeting, that took place at the prime minister’s office on Thursday afternoon, was in connection with the Indian government’s plan of exploring the possibility of partnering with the multi-billion dollar social networking major to take governance directly to the people as well as to give a leg up to tourism globally by encouraging more people to visit India through that social platform.

Besides, Modi also asked Sandberg to assist the government in its “clean India” campaign in time for Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary year.

In a tweet, the prime minister spoke of how a “platform such as Facebook could be used for governance and better interaction between the people and governments.”

Sandberg, on her part, talked about India’s importance as a strategic market with over 100 million active Facebook users, a figure second only to the US. Only last month, the networking platform had targeted one billion Facebook users in India over the medium term.

In an earlier meeting, Sandberg and telecom & information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also emphasised the “immense potential for working together.”

A day earlier, Sandberg in her various interactions with industry and business people said she was bullish on the India growth story. Recounting her regular visits to India during previous stints at Google and Facebook, Sandberg said she had seen a very positive change in the country over the last few decades. “India was not just a place that is growing its own economy but we have one of our four global centres of operation here,” she said.

“We are not only using the talent of India to grow our business here but also around the world,” Sandberg said. “India is high priority for us,” she said, as it was “Facebook’s second largest market, and also its fastest growing market, with the fastest growing internet connectivity in the Asia Pacific region.”

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