Hours after Facebook official Marc Andreessen deleted an offensive tweet on India, founder Mark Zuckerberg put out a strong disclaimer calling the comments “deeply upsetting”.
“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,” Mr Zuckerberg posted on Wednesday.
“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,” he wrote.
On Tuesday, Mr Andreessen, a Facebook board member, provoked furious reactions with this tweet: “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”
He was weighing in on India banning differential pricing for internet data content, a decision that struck down Facebook’s free internet scheme.
Bombarded by angry tweets, Mr Andreessen deleted the comment. A screenshot, however, was circulated and reactions kept pouring in.
Telecom regulator TRAI has backed net neutrality and banned differential pricing for data, which means no content can be offered at discounted rates. In a statement, Facebook said it was “disappointed”. Free Basics, described by Mr Zuckerberg as a way of bringing the internet to millions of Indians, allowed users to access – at no charge – Facebook’s own social network and messaging services, along with the content of its partners.