Facebook’s great hope, India, crosses 100 million users

With China out of the picture, India is the company's last big hope. But Google's experiences here should give it some pause
Written by Rajiv Rao, Contributing Writer

The leading social networking company in the world must be thrilled as it hits the 100 million user mark in India, the second country to reach this milestone after the US.

facebook india

 Apparently analysts say that at this rate, India will in fact outstrip the US and boast the most number of users in the world, at around 150 million. India currently has around 160 million internet users, a fraction of what it will eventually field considering its 1.2 billion strong population.

The reason for Facebook’s excitement—albeit a celebration that is masked by a thin coating of desperation—is because growth in the West is flatlining and the only countries that can offer any boost in numbers are developing countries. Yet, in Russia, as the article explains, local versions of facebook are preffered and in China, which would be the mother lode in terms of consumers, the social network is banned. (This happened in 2009). Which means that India is its only hope as far as huge numbers are concerned.

China banned the outfit in 2009 after Urumqi, in Xinjian, exploded in riots as Xinjian independence activists were using the website for communication. Google, of course, is the other notable company that was given the jackboot.


India, however, while nowhere close to China’s stifling of Internet freedom of speech as yet, is not as yet the paragon of online virtue. Google has been fighting a case of defamation that has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court in January of this year.

Google landed in this soup when a company called Visaka, which manufactures cement and asbestos fiber sheets, was accused by a blogger of being protected by the Congress party. If found guilty, Google managers could be thrown into the slammer for life and issues heavy fines.

2009 seemed to be a watershed year for censorship in Asia. While China was busy throwing Google out, India changed its laws to hold internet firms responsible for "offensive," "defamatory" or "blasphemous" content, hence the current pickle that Google finds itself in here, something that Facebook should take a page (sorry, make that a page view) from. The Supreme Court still hasn’t ruled on the amendments.


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