Modi hails social media power at Facebook HQ

ndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed the political power of social media, as he visited the headquarters of Facebook in California.

“To leaders all over the world: you are not going to gain by running away from social media,” he said in Hindi during a question-and-answer session.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg moderated the hour-long event.

Later on Sunday, Mr Modi was welcomed by more than 20,000 people at a stadium in nearby San Jose.

The SAP Center event also drew protesters against Mr Modi’s human rights records among other issues.

Speaking at Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, Mr Modi said: “The strength of social media today is that it can tell governments where they are wrong and can stop them from moving in the wrong direction.”

“We used to have elections every five years and now we can have them every five minutes,” he added.

Mr Modi, 65, regularly uses both Facebook and Twitter to communicate with millions of his followers.

Candid moments

Both Mr Zuckerberg and Mr Modi shared emotional moments during the discussion.

After Mr Zuckerberg pointed out his parents in the audience, Mr Modi welled with tears speaking about his own.

He recounted stories from his childhood in a poor family, selling tea at a railway station and doing hard chores to earn money.

“It is hard to imagine that a tea seller has actually become the leader of the world’s biggest democracy,” he said.

The Facebook founder also told of a time when the company was going through what he called a “rough patch”. His late mentor, Apple boss Steve Jobs, advised him to travel to India.

“Seeing the people and how people connected, reinforced what we were doing and is something I’ve always remembered,” he said.

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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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