New Delhi: Facebook Inc. on today announced the appointment of Ajit Mohan as managing director and vice-president of Facebook India. He is currently serving as the chief executive of Star India-owned online video streaming platform Hotstar and will join Facebook early next year.
In this newly created role, Mohan will lead a senior leadership team at Facebook India, in an attempt to strengthen Facebook’s relationships with people, businesses and, most importantly, the government. Mohan, however, will not be responsible for Facebook’s sister concerns—photo sharing app Instagram and messaging platform WhatsApp—which currently do not have India heads. On Monday, WhatsApp announced the appointment of Komal Lahiri as its grievance officer.
“India is one of the largest and most strategically important countries for Facebook. As we think about what it will take to achieve our mission of bringing people together and building community, we know that investment in India is critical. Ajit’s depth of experience will help us to continue to have a positive impact in India across communities, organizations, businesses and with policymakers," said David Fischer, vice-president of business and marketing partnerships at Facebook.
Mohan’s appointment comes a year after Umang Bedi resigned as the managing director of Facebook India, 15 months after taking over the role. Facebook India was without a senior leader since October 2015 with Facebook’s India and South Asia director Sandeep Bhushan acting as its interim managing director.
“I am delighted to take on the mantle of shaping Facebook’s charter in India. It is a unique opportunity to shape the agenda of a company that has brought the world closer together in one of the most exciting markets in the world. I look forward to championing India in Facebook and working with stakeholders across the spectrum to help build deep and meaningful communities across the country" said Mohan in a statement.
Mohan brings with him to Facebook over two decades of experience. He has worked with Star India and, McKinsey and Co. as well as management consulting firm Arthur D. Little.
Facebook has been in the eye of the storm in India with multiple controversies around the misuse of personal data and fake news. The government sought from Facebook clarity on whether personal data of Indian voters and users was compromised by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, or any other entity in any manner.
In the US, Cambridge Analytica is reported to have harvested 50 million Facebook users’ data to benefit various political campaigns, including Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign in 2016.
With general elections slated for next year in India, the government is tightening its noose around social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for spread of misinformation.