One of India’s most prominent billionaires has declared he will finance a domestic rival to Facebook following the scandal the US social media networking giant has become embroiled in recently.
Facebook has come under intense scrutiny and condemnation since it emerged that UK firm Cambridge Analytica had used the personal details of 50 million unwitting users for political campaigns including the contentious US Presidential election in 2016.
However, Anand Mahindra, who controls the Mahindra Group’s business empire - has encouraged tech entrepreneurs in India to establish their own domestic version of the social networking platform amidst the data leak scandal, and insisted that he would fund the project.
The billionaire has said he has been overwhelmed by the response to his remarks about India creating its very own version of Facebook. Mahindra Group issued a statement saying it would bankroll startups to get momentum behind the project moving. Facebook is under severe pressure globally, and Mahindra believes the time is right for India to set up its own platform.
Mahindra posted the following tweet on Twitter, “To say I'm overwhelmed by the responses to my call for social network startup proposals would be an understatement! The good thing is that it's clear there's an explosion in entrepreneurial energies in this country. Let the games begin!"
If India did opt to establish its own social media networking platform it would strike a devastating blow to under-fire Facebook. India is home to the world’s highest number of Facebook users with 241 million active members following statistics from a comprehensive report conducted by The Next Web.
India’s IT ministry convened last week and formally issued a request that Cambridge Analytica provide clarity in relation to its practices on Facebook. Reports also emerged in India which alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party and the opposition Congress had used the firm in previous elections, sparking a series of alleged data abuses which both sides vehemently deny.
India's IT minister warned Facebook against any abuse of social media in elections. India is preparing for general elections in 2019 - and there are also a number of state polls due this year and next year.