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Facebook taking significant steps to comply with IT rules: Ajit Mohan

New Delhi | Mumbai: Facebook has made significant efforts to comply with the new IT rules, its India managing director Ajit Mohan told ET.

The social media giant’s growth in the country continues to be ‘exciting’, he said, adding that India would remain the innovation crucible despite a greater onus on it to comply with the revised guidelines.

He also said Facebook-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp
will not limit its functionality for those who had refused to accept its new privacy policy update.

It will continue reminding Indian users about the updates till the Personal Data Protection Bill becomes law, Mohan told ET in an interview. The adoption to digital ways of living due to the Covid-19 pandemic has driven revenue and growth for the company, he added.

“The reality is most of us have adopted a more digital way of living. And that shows up for businesses, in the use of our platform for marketing and advertising and therefore our revenues as well,” Mohan said. “A lot of entrepreneurship has been unleashed in the direct-to-consumer sector and the companies are gravitating to platforms like ours,”

Referring to the growth of Instagram in India and its short-video format Reels following the ban on popular Chinese short video platform TikTok last year, Mohan said the space has seen a lot of ‘action’––both on the product front as well as investment from venture capital and private equity.

About six million Reels videos are being posted on Instagram every day and the format is spurring growth for the platform, he said.

“Two years ago, one of the intentional parts of our India approach was to put disproportionate energy on Instagram’s growth in India. Have we done well? Yeah, we have done well, but this is true for the Facebook app, and WhatsApp as well,” Mohan said.

“The growth in India continues to be quite exciting. A lot of it is because of the underlying drivers…you have 700 million-plus people online, it’s a very young population, and when you get a format like video right, you’ve gotten the creation tools right,” he said. “You’re making it easy for creators to find followers to grow dramatically. And increasingly, thinking about how you help these creators, drive monetisation better.”

Marketers are also turning their attention from traditional media to digital media, he said.

“Equally, we’re also seeing that a platform like ours is naturally geared towards small businesses, because it’s easy to start. You can also get accountability for the money that you spend so you can quite quickly get a sense of how much returns you are getting on the marketing spends you put on these platforms. And you can reach global audiences.”

While India has been used as a testing ground for launches and tests such as Reels and Instagram Lite, the ‘massive growth’ of Instagram has not been at the cost of Facebook and the two apps continue to have distinct identities, he said.

“I think the reality is, Instagram is growing quite quickly in India. Reels has really helped Instagram to go deeper across geographies. But the reality is that the Facebook app is growing quite strongly as well. And we really don’t see it as one or the other, because the reality is people use them for different things.

“The utility of Facebook is really for friends and family and building communities and groups. Instagram has always bent towards following interests and brands and passions,” Mohan said.

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