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Mark Zuckerberg: India crucial to next billion online

  • Published at 05:31 am October 29th, 2015

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has said India will be crucial to getting "the next billion online" and helping to combat poverty.

Speaking to college students in Delhi, Mr Zuckerberg said expanding Internet access was key to economic growth.

Reports say some 900 students turned out for the session at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Last month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the headquarters of Facebook in California.

With more than 130 million users, India is Facebook's largest market outside the United States.

"If you really have a mission of connecting every person in the world you can't do that without connecting people in India," Mr Zuckerberg told the students.

"We have the second biggest community in India and we want the next billion to come online."

Mr Zuckerberg said Internet access helped create jobs and lift people out of poverty.

Last month, Mr Modi hailed the political power of social media during his visit to the Facebook headquarters.

Mr Modi has said he wants to connect all India's villages to the internet - around a billion Indians currently lack internet access.

Facebook says its internet.org project, which offers free access to a bundle of mobile phone web apps, can help get the developing world online.

But it has drawn criticism in India, accused of favouring Facebook over local services.

"We have a moral responsibility to look out for people who do not have the Internet... and make sure the rules don't get twisted to hurt people who don't have a voice," the Facebook CEO said on Wednesday.

Mr Zuckerberg visited the Taj Mahal on Tuesday.

"It is even more stunning than I expected. It's incredible what people can build - and what love can motivate us to build," he wrote on Facebook.