Facebook Fuel For India 2020 Day 1: Social Stories shaping India’s growth and connecting the unconnected

Fuel For India 2020 kickstarted with social stories on how Facebook has helped people in India and their stories take the centre stage.

Laxitha Mundhra
New Update
Facebook Fuel for India 2020

The first day of Fuel For India 2020 kickstarted with social stories on how Facebook has helped people in India. According to Facebook, the event is "a conversation where stories take centre stage. Stories of diversity and adversity, stories that reflect hope, passion, resolve and inspiration; and also stories that are shaping India’s growth."


“India is in the midst of one of the most dynamic social and economic transformations the world has ever seen. Call it a pivot, a moment in time or a movement in history, for us it’s a story we are excited to be a part of, one that inspires us every day,” says the pitch for the Facebook Fuel For India 2020 event.

The first edition of Facebook Fuel for India 2020 squarely focuses on growth opportunities in the digital space for India. It marks Facebook's intent towards supporting India's digital revolution ambitions. The two-day event is spread in 5 key pointers on Day 1. Some of the listed conversation agenda following the keynote by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, include a focus on the communities in India, using digital tools for social good, democratizing donations via digital platforms, using digital tools to empower women entrepreneurs, digital inclusion using platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram and creativity as well as Facebook’s push for building a safe and open internet for consumers in India.

Everything that has happened on the Facebook Fuel For India 2020 Day 1


1. Driving social good through the power of connections

Celebrating the power of communities in India

Speakers: Mahita Nagaraj and Sheryl Sandberg


In the first session, Mahita Nagaraj at Caremongers India told the story of her efforts to help individuals through the first weeks of the complete lockdown imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic's outbreak in the country. Nagaraj highlighted that her WhatsApp chats to help senior citizens (that came out in the early months of the pandemic) has now spread into a Facebook group with 52,000 members, who have already helped serve 25,000 people's requests in 17 countries.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also joined the Fuel for India 2020 virtual event. She addressed Nagaraj's community efforts and her use of digital tools in the process. Sandberg spoke about lean-in circles for women across the world, in 180 countries. This included India as well, which grew using Facebook's expansive digital communication tools.

Social good through digital tools and the power of connections


Speakers: Dr Ruby Khan and Ishita Anand

In the second event, Ishita Anand of Facebook India highlighted how digital community endeavours have helped address critical issues such as shortage of blood during the Covid-19 pandemic. The video, showing Dr Ankita Site's presentation at Fuel for India, brought forward Facebook's help to notify group and page members interested in donating blood. This also helped her arrange a digital blood donation drive of sorts.

In the same session, Dr Ruby Khan highlighted how Facebook's blood donation tool has helped bring blood donors to faraway corners across India, such as fringe areas like Anuppur and Betul in Madhya Pradesh.


Democratising donations through digital platforms

Speakers: Anoj Vishwanathan and Ajit Mohan

In the third session, Anoj Vishwanathan, co-founder of Milaap, spoke about using Facebook's tools to promote its own crowdsourcing model, and how he's using new tech to streamline the act of donations. Vishwanathan also narrated how the new generation tools have opened up the community aspect of donations, and how Milaap makes the most of this for many.


2. Empowering entrepreneurs through digital platforms

Empowering women entrepreneurs through digital platforms

Speakers: David Fischer and Vidit Aatrey


David Fischer, CRO, Facebook, addressed the presentation in this event. He showcased 'Nayi Shurwaat'. The video shows the role of Facebook in helping small businesses start up their own online stores. This helps in cases such as farm to market business models using Facebook. Vidit Aatrey, the co-founder of Meesho also added insights on the event. Meesho is India's first Facebook-funded startup. Like Fischer's Nayi Shurwaat move, Meesho is also an ideal example of how Facebook circles and communities have helped bring together people for its women empowerment and opportunity services.

Aatrey also underlines how the availability of digital tools have helped break barriers of social construct and life limitations for promising women; women who have, thus, grown as digital entrepreneurs, hand in hand with Meesho.

Innovation in education during the pandemic

Speakers: Gaurav Munjal and Ajit Mohan

Gaurav Munjal of Unacademy leads the next event. Another Facebook-funded startup, Gaurav states that Unacademy has also benefitted from Facebook's ecosystem. He said that the e-learning platform rose to considerable popularity during the months of the pandemic. And not only students but teachers also benefitted from Facebook's communication tool.

In conversation with Ajit Mohan, Munjal speaks about how Unacademy's tools and services are helping democratise education, which is no longer bound by older constraints such as logistical or financial difficulties.

Accelerating digital inclusion with WhatsApp

Speaker: Will Cathcart

Facebook’s Fuel for India 2020 event also saw the presence of Will Cathcart. Will, the head of WhatsApp, highlighted how WhatsApp has played an important role in communications during the lockdown. “We’ve all relied on text and video calls is the next best thing to having a face to face conversations. That’s why WhatsApp is so committed to delivering a reliable service that is private and secure. We feel safe when we can share our true feelings, and our hopes and dreams for what’s to come after this pandemic,” Cathcart said.

He also talked about WhatsApp’s payments feature. WhatsApp pay just rolled out this year after getting regulatory approval. On the occasion, he said that the company aims to bring payments to more people in India this year. “Our goal was to make sending a payment as easy as sending a message. Sending money should be simple, easy and secure. Digital payments give people a way to help other people to create and grow the micro and small businesses that are the backbone of India’s economy,” he added.

He also touched upon the hotline for Covid-19 set up by multiple organisations through WhatsApp.

3. Unleashing Creative Expression

Unleashing creative expression with Instagram

Speakers: Kusha Kapila and Adam Mosseri

One of my favourite conversations at Facebook Fuel for India 2020, the event brought forth questions from Kusha Kapila, a content creator and influencer to Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram. Instagram has grown massively in India in the past two years. Adam states that they're bringing the Android app up to speed with the iOS as well. Kusha Kapila spoke to Mosseri on various topics. But one question that stood out was the simplicity of using Instagram vs choosing complex but novel new features for the app. Mosseri said that the new features are in line with how usage habits and the world have changed this year, hence the wide rollout of features this year.

Mosseri also spoke about "shadow ban". He explained the numerous ways in which users get restricted on the platform. He added that this feature still needs more transparency. Upon a question from Kapila about how they take bullying on Instagram, he illustrated the use of the 'restrict' button on Instagram and its benefits in strategically restricting bullies. He also touched upon judging the importance of responding to bullying complaints with the prevalence of a bullying tactic.

Finally, Mosseri spoke about monetisation on the platform. He said that there won't be one blanket monetisation tool for Instagram, but a "bunch of tools" for it.

Designing the Facebook app for India

Speaker: Fidji Simo, Head of Facebook App

Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app spoke of how the main Facebook app is helping ventures across a wide range of genres grow expansively. She touched upon the app's focus on the video watching experience, including its partnership with ICC to address India's obsession with cricket. Simo also talked about the partnership with 14 Indian content publishers on the Facebook Watch and videos front.

Thus, making it clear at Facebook Fuel For India 2020 that Facebook is focusing on videos. Further, Simo also states how Facebook Fundraisers in the app have upto 70 charities.

Solving for the Indian video consumer with Facebook Watch

Speaker: Vijaye Raji, Head of entertainment, Facebook

Vijaye Raji, VP of entertainment at Facebook India, says personalisation, relevance and social video are the three main pillars of the main Facebook app's entertainment experience. "Live videos have tripled the last year, and Facebook Watch has grown 2x," says Raji.

4. Building a safe and open internet

Building a safe and open internet for Indian consumers

Speaker: Rudra Chaudhuri and Nick Clegg

Another of my favourite conversation at Facebook Fuel For India 2020 is this, where Nick Clegg states, "‘Micromanaging each line of content is not the best regulatory approach." Facebook has been in and out of controversies for the content available on all its platforms. Clegg, VP, Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, spoke about regulations and privacy laws, stating that the law shouldn't seek to micro-manage operations. They should hold companies like Facebook accountable and urge them to be transparent. This would be the right way, even in terms of handling data sharing requests with law enforcement bodies and help maintain administration.

He also defended Facebook’s approach to how it monitors hate speech on the platform. The former Deputy PM of the UK emphasised on a distinction between Facebook and Instagram. They are more public social media platforms, he stated. Whereas, WhatsApp is an end-to-end encrypted platform. “What we say to policymakers in India and elsewhere is because we can’t see the content that doesn’t mean that we cannot use signals that we do pick up - metadata. We can use metadata to pick up signals; so that we can go after people on an encrypted messaging system,” he pointed out.

Disseminating accurate information at scale during the pandemic

Speakers: Abhishek Singh and Shivnath Thukral

Shivnath Thukral, Director of public policy at WhatsApp and Facebook, spoke to Abhishek Singh, MD-CEO of Digital India Corporation who works closely with MyGov. He spoke about the impact of user engagement that the government body has seen so far through Facebook's public tools, as well as their WhatsApp chatbot for Covid-19. "Innovation and collaboration have really helped us scale up in no time, and let people know about the government's efforts to control the pandemic Platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook play big roles in educating users on aspects such as how to stay safe," says Singh.

Thukral highlighted the responsibility of companies in operations as well as partnerships and touched upon using collected data for better purposes only, and not objective commercial gains only.

Building for a safe and open internet for women

Speakers: Roxna Irani, Product Lead, Facebook

Roxna Irani touched upon the aspect of women's safety on the platform in Facebook Fuel For India 2020. She said, As per the 2020 GSMA report, South Asia has the widest gender gap in mobile internet usage. Women are 51% less likely to use the internet than men. Why? Largely because of safety and security concerns around their experiences online. From extensive research in India, we at Facebook, realised that there are lots of existing privacy settings on Facebook. But despite that some users, particularly women, existing privacy settings on Facebook but despite that some users particularly women still fear getting privacy wrong which holds them back from expressing themselves on our platform."

She goes on to extensively talk about the new Facebook feature called "Lock You Profile"

Unlocking the potential of a digitally connected India

Speakers: Ajit Mohan, Mark Zuckerberg and Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani and Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the importance of digital connectivity as a means to empower the masses, how small businesses get a much-needed push with the correct technology and tools in place, Jio’s partnership with Facebook as well as India’s Digital India mission and the entrepreneurial journey.

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