Town Hall

Inside Facebook’s bid to become the Indian government’s default town square

Since the Free Basics failure, Facebook is going all out to woo the government, political parties and lawmakers, even launching voter registration reminders last week, in 13 languages. How serious a role is it going to play in the 2019 elections?

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On 20 April 2017, the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the Indian government’s official communication department, held an unusual event: an official workshop titled ‘Instagram for Better Government Communication’. Besides PIB officials, it was attended by union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. The workshop saw the two ministers and bureaucrats learn the nuances of Facebook’s photo-sharing app, Instagram, and its potential as an outreach tool. It was the first such initiative by Instagram in Asia, where John Tass-Parker, its key global politics and government outreach official, participated, among others.

While the event itself did…

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