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Friday, January 22, 2021

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Facebook’s Indian users need additional settings to accommodate all that desi-ness

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Attn: Mark Zuckerberg
Indians all over the world are some of most prolific users of your social media platform, Facebook. However, it has become increasingly apparent to me that the current version of Facebook does not afford the full extent of tools to express ourselves in an authentic ‘Indian’ manner. So, I am writing this to make a case for much-needed amendments to Facebook so that it can adequately cater for us Indians.
First up, we require a few more privacy settings. Pronto.
The current ‘Public’, and ‘Friends only’ settings for privacy do not even get close to the layers of segregation we have in our lives. The whole ‘six degrees of separation’ model may hold true for the world, but, not for us desis. In our case, the separation rarely exceeds an arm’s length. Hence, we need stringent barriers to preserve our privacy.
Mark, if your team were to read this plea, I recommend adding in a few additional settings in the privacy menu for your Indian users. The categories have to be broader that ‘Friends’ and ‘Acquaintances’, and must address our relationships. Here’s a suggested prototype:
For Facebook users of Indian denomination, the privacy setting for ‘Who can view your post’ may include – Friends only, WhatsApp group friends only, WhatsApp Family Group only (except chachi, bua, and Delhi waali maasi), Mum’s family only, Kitty group only, and so on.
Next, let’s talk about profile photos.
As Indians, we do not need Facebook’s variety of sports-themed profile photo frames. The only sports frame we occasionally use is the ‘Indian Cricket Team’ one (that too only when we play Pakistan). The other 57 of them are useless for us. Instead, we plead to have profile photo frames that may protect our precious profile photos from the ‘evil eye’.
Suggested slogans to the Facebook management team for such frames may include ‘buri nazar waale tera moonh kala’, ‘dekho, magar pyar se’ etc. If Facebook wishes to be more creative, it can offer some frames with visuals of half a dozen green chillies stitched together with a lonesome lemon at the end, or that of a broken old sandal, or what we call a ‘Nazar Battu’ (a demon face with its tongue sticking out). I cannot stress enough the burning need for us to save our ‘profile photos’ from ‘buri nazar’. A lot of us regularly get bedridden and contract other serious ailments due to the inability of Facebook to protect our profile photos from the evil eye. So please, do take this seriously.
Moving on, we realise that at Facebook you have recently updated those ‘reactions’ to include ‘wows’ and ‘love-its’. Sadly though, as Indians we have our own unique suite of emotions that the current collection of Facebook ‘reactions’ is utterly incapable of expressing. When desis look at a photo or a status update on Facebook, we express emotions that no current emoji is equipped to convey.
“Look at her skin, surely she has used a filter,” “How decent she pretends to be normally,” “They must have posted this photo out of jealousy from our photo,” “Do they stay on vacation all the time,” “Has he bought another new car now” – we tend to express ourselves in full-fledged sentences, not single words. So please get your engineers at Facebook to etch out some emojis that can express these elaborate Indian emotions.
Mark, buddy, you give us the above and we pledge to be loyal to Facebook for eternity.
Yours truly,
One of the many needful Indians

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Sanam Sharma
A typical middle class guy who is abundantly opinionated, moderately flawed, and adequately grounded

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