Online communities helping Indians sail through pandemic: Facebook

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Amid the pandemic, India saw a steep growth in online communities on Facebook and 92 percent of respondents said they received some form of support through online community groups amid the deadly Covid wave last year, a new Facebook-New York University (NYU) report said on Friday.

Over 38.8 percent of people in India said the online groups have become “significantly more important”, as compared to responses from the rest of the world (29.5 percent), according to the report by The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in partnership with Facebook.

More than 5.5 million people in India are part of active parenting groups on Facebook.

At least 43.8 per cent of Indians find a sense of belonging in online groups and 42.1 per cent of Indians’ most important group is online.

“The pandemic has shown how important these online communities are. Digital communities have brought people together around a shared trait or interest and have become spaces for people to find compassion and support,” said Ajit Mohan, VP, and MD of Facebook India.

“The findings reaffirm our mission of connecting people and bringing the world closer together and online communities continue to be a big part of that mission,” he said in a statement.

Nearly 91 percent of the respondents globally said they were able to provide some form of support via these online groups, whether it was helping local vulnerable residents with their groceries during the lockdown, sharing vital information from health authorities, emotional support, or providing financial support to local businesses.

The report found that more than 1.8 billion people across the world use Facebook Groups every month, more than half of all users are in five or more groups, and over 70 million admins and moderators are running Facebook Groups.

The GovLab interviewed 50 leaders of Facebook Groups from 17 countries, 26 digital community experts in 11 countries, along with Facebook internal research, literature review, and a parallel survey conducted by YouGov involving 15,000 respondents from 15 countries to reach the conclusion.

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