Meta sees India as a “priority market” with “boundless” opportunities fueled by macroeconomic growth, digital infrastructure and the popularity of its apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, said Sandhya Devanathan, the social media giant’s head of India.
In an interview with PTI, Devanathan, who took the lead in January this year, said India’s new digital personal data protection legislation has provided a framework and clarity for tech companies and represents a “major step in reconciling user protection and innovation.” Meta, she emphasized, “welcomes constructive regulations” and will wait for the detailed regulations.
Devanathan, Meta’s Vice President in India, also spoke about the company’s determination to tackle misinformation on the platform and how it uses AI (artificial intelligence) to proactively curb hateful content.
Meta will continue its efforts on electoral integrity as India heads for Lok Sabha elections next year, she said.
India has one of the largest meta user bases in the world – at last count there were 400 million Facebook users and counting.
She said user growth is strong. Overall, the opportunities offered by the Indian market are “boundless”, backed by strong macroeconomic fundamentals, digital public infrastructure and other factors.
For Meta, India is also one of the markets with the highest engagement with short video, both in terms of reel creation and consumption, Devanathan said. “Meta India is innovating for Meta globally” and there is also tremendous momentum in small businesses utilizing Meta platforms and tools.
A significant number of companies in India are on Meta and using its platforms to build their first online presence and to find and communicate with customers, she stressed.
When asked about Facebook’s declining appeal among teenagers and young adults in key markets, indicating a clear shift in preferences, Devanathan asserted that Facebook continues to resonate and be relevant to users of all ages.
Devanathan said she disagrees with the perception of Facebook’s slow decline among younger audiences.
“India is an extremely important market for the company. Hence, India has one of our largest user base be it on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. But India is also the place where we test a lot of what we introduce.” Also worldwide. We also develop many of our innovative products there and we will continue to invest,” she said.
India’s vision of a $1 trillion digital economy by 2030 is a significant tailwind for opportunity, she noted.
“And that number will mean tech companies will have tailwinds from a growing economy. Likewise, in the not-too-distant future, you see close to a billion people online, of whom 400 million are expected to shop online.” “Look at the video consumption numbers too… So it’s not just for Meta, it’s for a lot of other companies too enormous scope,” she said.
In addition, the percentage of GDP spent on advertising is one of the lowest in India compared to other markets. In the US, that figure is around 1.9 percent, in India it’s under 0.5 percent.
Meta sees India as a “huge priority market” for innovation, user interaction and business growth.
Devanathan said Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram cater to a wide range of users.
“Facebook actually has a very thriving active community. So I would debunk any myth… on the Facebook numbers… we announced just a few months ago that daily activity on Facebook is growing and just hit 2 billion “That’s a big number of daily activities that we’re talking about reported,” she said.
People use Facebook to get together and connect with friends, family, and the community, and that underlying appeal has “not changed.”
“If you look at the 2 billion figure, that’s a flat rate. Facebook is a very thriving platform around the world,” she said, stressing that Facebook’s slow decline is not happening.
On the new regulatory framework emerging in India — the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, upcoming Digital India legislation and existing social media rules — she said Meta welcomes “constructive” regulations.
“DPDP has provided a framework for tech companies to do business and provided clarity. We are waiting for the rules to be written out. But I would say this is a big step in balancing user protection and innovation.” …because that’s what will drive India’s Techade, so let’s welcome constructive regulation and see where we go from here go out,” she said.
India is one of the biggest markets for social media companies like Meta, Google and X (formerly Twitter), with booming smartphone sales and availability of dirt cheap data driving the growth of digital platforms.
However, in recent years, social media companies have drawn criticism around the world and in India for harming users and spreading misinformation, hate speech and fake news on their platforms. There is also growing dissatisfaction among a segment of users who claim that digital platforms have committed arbitrary acts in removing content or have not responded quickly enough to complaints despite users red flagging them.
India has tightened rules on social media companies, increasing their accountability to users. In fact, the government has consistently emphasized that security and trust are public policy goals and responsibilities, and will do everything possible to ensure that digital citizens navigate the online and social media spheres with appropriate safeguards in place become.