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Growing phenomenon of Indian language inclusion in the internet

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There is a growing phenomenon in India that seems have shed light on the root cause behind the difficulties in bringing those without access to the internet. Many social media and e-commerce web portals have begun to make available their content in various regional languages.

Here are the major organizations that have expanded to include Indian vernacular languages.

Facebook

In 2012 social networking website Facebook announced that it would be made available in eight regional Indian languages. These include Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali and Marathi.

It said during the launch that “with over 50 million people in India on Facebook, we want to make sure that everyone has a great Facebook mobile experience regardless of the device that they choose to use,” Facebook’s Country Growth Manager Kevin D’Souza said in a statement.”

Since then it has had its Indian user base, its second-biggest market globally, grown to 125 million by June 2015.

Snapdeal

Snapdeal became the first e-commerce portal in India to offer its content to users in multiple regional languages.

On December 15, 2015, it launched its multilingual interface with an aim of bringing more Indians to shop online by surmounting the language barrier. Hindi and Telegu have already been available for its mobile interface.

Other Indian languages will be made available by Jan 26th, in time for India’s Republic day. These languages include – Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Assamese and Punjabi.

Rohit Bansal, co-founder of Snapdeal, pointed out the advantages of such a move during the launch.

 “Customers are at the heart of everything we do and we are excited about using technology to make the experience more authentic for our users. India’s linguistic diversity is a huge opportunity to expand the market to include those users who would prefer to engage online in their native languages. Our decision to go multi-lingual is driven by the feedback that we have received from our users. We are sure this will enable millions of new users to join the digital commerce revolution that is sweeping across India. Snapdeal’s multi-lingual platform will redefine the rules of the game and will allow sellers and buyers from all across India to explore and transact without any constraints of language,” he said.

Quikr

Following the announcement of Snapdeal, the Indian classified advertising site – Quikr – launched seven vernacular language interfaces for its website. The languages were Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi to browse as well as post ads in.

This feature would open doors for many uninitiated but aspiring Indians. It would allow consumers to browse, search, post ads and interact with buyers and sellers in their language of choice.

Speaking at the launch, Pranay Chulet, Founder and CEO, Quikr said, “We are a made in India business that has always focused on what the Indian consumer needs. With Indian internet expanding beyond air-conditioned offices and homes and into the streets of the country, local languages are definitely the next frontier for us. I strongly believe that language should no longer be a barrier for people seeking to transact online and am super excited about the strong response our verticals such as QuikrC2C and QuikrJobs have already received in local languages.”

Twitter

In 2015, micro-blogging website twitter made itself accessible in four more Indian languages, which include Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil. “We’ve updated Twitter.com and the android app to support these additional Indian languages,” it said in a statement.

Earlier it was available in Hindi and Bengali before the four languages were added.

Moreover, it has also launched hashtags in other Indian languages.

“We’re excited to announce we’ve rolled out hashtags, not just in Hindi, but also in all Devanagari script based languages: Marathi, Sanskrit and even Nepali, as well as Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada,”  it said in a statement.

(Inputs from Rajesh Ghosh)

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Protesters Urge Facebook CEO to Not Share Misinformation Ads for US Politicians

Protesters urge Facebook not to run misinformation for US leaders

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Protestors rallied in front of a property owned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in downtown San Francisco to urge him to stop profiting from misinformation ads for US politicians. Pixabay

Some advocacy groups in Bay Area rallied on Monday in front of a property owned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in downtown San Francisco to urge him to stop profiting from misinformation ads for US politicians.

People from various cities in the Bay Area gathered outside Zuckerberg’s house on Presidents’ Day, which falls on Monday, to stage a “Wake the ZUCK Up” protest by chanting slogans and making noises with whistles to press him for making changes to his political ads policy, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Under current Facebook political ads policy, the Silicon Valley tech giant will not take any action against advertisements run by political leaders or groups even if they contain misinformation or lies, and those political ads, which target directly particular populations, creates “a completely distorted political dialogue,” Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director of the San Francisco-based non-profit Media Alliance, said.

She criticized Facebook for using technology of artificial intelligence to manipulate ad content so that other people cannot see it at all.

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Under current Facebook political ads policy, the Silicon Valley tech giant will not take any action against advertisements run by political leaders or groups even if they contain misinformation or lies. Pixabay

The protesters called themselves as “fed-up Facebook users” who are not happy with what’s going on with Facebook. “We don’t want distorted information fed to us day after day for your personal profit,” Rosenberg stressed.

She said her organization will partner with other groups to contact some Facebook advertisers to press Zuckerberg’s company to take on greater “corporate social responsibility” and handle “political ads in a much better way.”

Monday’s event was organized by Media Alliance and another San Francisco non-profit Global Exchange, in partnership with other community and advocacy groups in the Bay Area.

On January 9, Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern said the company will continue to allow political ads on its platform including Instagram, despite possible false information in those ads run by politicians.

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He reasserted that “people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public. He argued that decisions about those topics should not be made by private companies like Facebook. (IANS)