Facebook India's Ajit Mohan at ThinkEdu: Close to 600 mn users came online on mobile, unseen even in China

Mohan was speaking about new technologies and their role in new India on the final day of the ThinkEdu Conclave 2021, which was streamed virtually this year
Ajit Mohan at ThinkEdu 2021 | Pic: Edexlive
Ajit Mohan at ThinkEdu 2021 | Pic: Edexlive

While a large number of people are using the internet for good, there are also a minority of actors who are using it for purposes that are not right whether it is hate speech of a certain kind or whether it is spreading content that shouldn't be easily accessible, said Ajit Mohan, VP and Managing Director, Facebook India. "We have very clear guidelines about the kind of content that is not acceptable on our platforms — hate speech, speech that invokes violence, speech against women or protected communities. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are investing in people and technology to create a safe and secure environment," Mohan added. He was in conversation with Senior Journalist Kaveree Bamzai on the final day of the ThinkEdu Conclave 2021.  

Mohan spoke about the internet revolution that India witnessed over the last few years and how that has enabled "explosive opportunities". He said, "A very large part of the country came alive in terms of accessing the internet in a very short amount of time. We had close to 600 million people who came online with access to affordable internet on mobile. This kind of transformation, in both the scale and the pace, hasn't happened anywhere else, not even in China. As we look ahead to the future, we need to recognise that all the goodness that will come about with a large part of the country already connected to the internet and more getting connect every day will also mean that we are set for the emergence of new models, dramatic shift of behaviour and people reshaping their environment."

Citing the example of WhiteHat Jr, which recently got acquired by Bengaluru-based unicorn BYJU's, Mohan highlighted the role Facebook plays in online education. "WhiteHat Jr went from zero to a company that was valued at $300 million and a lot of their market expansion was on Facebook and Instagram. They started targeting the United States almost at the same time they expanded in India. That gives you an idea about the potential in sectors like education. India has a massive depth in high-quality teachers around the country and in many ways, this is a model where you can connect the teachers to global demand from students," Mohan said.  

READ ALSO: AICTE's Anil Sahasrabudhe at ThinkEdu 2021: Won't stop someone who learnt science even from YouTube to take up engineering 

Elaborating on how Facebook and WhatsApp helped the Indian government during the pandemic, Mohan said, "A big part of the health agenda over the last 12 months has been to make sure that people have access to accurate information on COVID-19. We had created WhatsApp and Messenger chatbots in March and April last year after collaborating with multiple state governments and the central government. Today, we ensure that people have accurate information about vaccines and that we play our role to limit vaccine hesitancy."
Mohan also spoke about somehow new tools like Instagram Reels and Messenger Rooms can help businesses and also individuals. "What's unique about our model is for any company using Facebook and Instagram to reach new consumers all over the world has access to the same tools that the largest companies have. There's also a big shift happening in terms of behaviour. People around the world are getting comfortable with the idea of a virtual presence. A lot of our work is to build tools to fuel that. We put in a lot of energy to ensure that we are investing in skilling. We have a programme called Boost with Facebook to create awareness among people who are being introduced to the internet for the first time, how to use the tools." He also explained how Facebook ensure gender inclusion. "There is a huge gender imbalance. Around 60 to 65 per cent of the internet is accessed by men. A lot of our programmes are focused on making sure women find it safe to be online and also fuelling women entrepreneurship," he added.  

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