It was an ugly weekend in India for Facebook. This week, the social media company held an event called Listen to India and had three chief executives there to sell itself as a solution to the country’s deepening online woes. They sought to paint themselves as advocates for progress — from higher wages for women workers to legal-aid services for victims of violence and to closing the gender pay gap — but their push did little to squelch local concerns.
Indian women, including those who work at Facebook, continue to voice complaints about violence and harassment on the platform. Many Indian citizens, meanwhile, remain deeply suspicious of Facebook’s intentions in the country. Many protest the company’s access to private data held by users, its tussle with local authorities over its data centers, and the way it has been used in India for political ends — accusations the company maintains are a misunderstanding. Meanwhile, its free public Wi-Fi program, announced earlier this month, has been met with high demand but little information about how to access it.
Over the weekend, there were news reports of a new Facebook survey (released publicly on Monday) suggesting that 34 percent of Indians do not believe the company’s policies are up to par, and that nearly three-quarters believe the company should pay more attention to India’s needs. Part of Facebook’s problem, analysts say, is that Indians overwhelmingly trust WhatsApp to inform them about important news stories. And most apps, including Facebook, use an algorithm to keep content flowing. The company must find a way to do better, analysts say. And if it does not, India will likely be among the countries that suffer the most from the company’s failings.
Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.
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