On Tuesday night, Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen’s gaffed on Twitter when he attempted to defend a free mobile Internet access banned by Indian regulators, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is taking a stand.
In a post on Facebook on Wednesday, Zuckerberg denounced Andreessen’s earlier comments about India and made it clear he has the utmost respect and appreciation for the country.
“Early on in my thinking about our mission, I traveled to India and was inspired by the humanity, spirit and values of the people. It solidified my understanding that when all people have the power to share their experiences, the entire world will make progress,” Zuckerberg writes.
Though they’ve since been deleted, Andreessen’s controversial tweets were largely perceived as pro-colonialism. Andreessen had taken to Twitter after Indian regulators banned Free Basics, a program from Facebook that gives users free access to the Internet on mobile devices, but only for select websites and apps. The service is available in several other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but India hasn’t been receptive to it because of concerns over net neutrality and Facebook’s control over the content that can be freely accessed.
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?” read Andreessen’s tweets.
The Investor—and member of Facebook’s
board—quickly apologized, however, though the damage couldn’t be erased.
Zuckerberg’s response on Facebook in full:
I want to respond to Marc Andreessen’s comments about India yesterday. I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all.
India has been personally important to me and Facebook. Early on in my thinking about our mission, I traveled to India and was inspired by the humanity, spirit and values of the people. It solidified my understanding that when all people have the power to share their experiences, the entire world will make progress.
Facebook stands for helping to connect people and giving them voice to shape their own future. But to shape the future we need to understand the past. As our community in India has grown, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the need to understand India’s history and culture. I’ve been inspired by how much progress India has made in building a strong nation and the largest democracy in the world, and I look forward to strengthening my connection to the country.