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Mark Zuckerberg distances himself from Facebook board member's 'colonialism' comments


By Jon Brady, Photographer/Reporter

February 11, 2016 | 3 min read

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has publicly distanced himself from comments made by a board member yesterday which appeared to suggest support for colonialism in India.

Facebook, Trump

Facebook, Trump

Tech investor Marc Andreessen had tweeted the remarks following a decision by Indian regulators to ban initiatives which breach net neutrality standards - including Facebook’s Free Basics service, which offered free access to a limited number of online services in the country.

In a reply to one tweet he had made, he responded: “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”

In a statement posted on his personal Facebook profile, Zuckerberg made clear that he found the comments “deeply upsetting”, and that they represented neither his nor Facebook’s way of thinking.

He said: “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.

“Facebook stands for helping to connect people and giving them voice to shape their own future. But to shape the future we need to understand the past.

“As our community in India has grown, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the need to understand India’s history and culture. I’ve been inspired by how much progress India has made in building a strong nation and the largest democracy in the world, and I look forward to strengthening my connection to the country.”

Andreessen has also publicly apologised for the remarks.

In a series of tweets posted on his profile last night, he said he was “100% opposed to colonialism, and 100% in favor of independence and freedom, in every country, including India.”

“I apologize for any offense my comment caused, and withdraw it in full and without reservation,” he added. “I will leave all future commentary on all of these topics to people with more knowledge and experience than me.”

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