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Facebook updates privacy options to allow caste based content sharing

08, May 2010 By Pagal Patrakar

New Delhi. Keeping with their policy of frequent changes in features and layout, Facebook today announced that the popular social networking site will soon launch an India specific feature that will allow users to share specific content and information within members of their own caste. The feature, part of privacy options, will also enable users to hide any content or information from other members based on their castes.

“Undoubtedly these new privacy options are aimed at our Indian users. India is a growing market and is supposed to become a superpower; hence we are pretty keen to understand that segment. We realized that caste is one of the major factors in Indian pub(l)ic life and hence we are testing our maiden caste-based feature for its performance.” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, hinting that more caste-based features could be introduced in future.

The new set of privacy options have been launched in its beta version starting today morning. Many users were amused when they were asked to mention their caste in their profile as soon as they logged into their Facebook accounts this morning. Once they filled in the details, the following additional options appeared in their privacy options settings:

Customized caste options
You can choose what to broad-caste and what to narrow-caste

“Initially I was shocked, but I guess this is not such a bad idea at all. Some days back I had updated my status message with a PJ on Mayawati, and one guy commented if I would have still made joke of Mayawati if she was from my own caste! I don’t know if this feature will help, but caste-based content sharing is not bizarre.” Amar Singh, a Facebook user said.

Facebook is hoping to attract new users in India and increase involvement of the existing users after introduction of this caste-based feature. Although the company has not divulged its plans for future release of caste-based features, but experts believe that these could include caste-based content recommendations, new friend suggestions, and even matrimonial suggestions.

“If Facebook documents castes of all its Indian users, it can as well start a matrimonial site and add new sources of revenue. In fact, there are endless possibilities. If reservations into private sector are introduced, Facebook will have the advantage of launching a competitor of LinkedIn with additional and required information on castes.” said one of the various social media marketing experts.

Unconfirmed sources have indicated that Union Home Ministry too has taken note of the development and is thinking of involving Facebook for a caste-based census.

“Government is already planning to connect whole of India through internet after 3G auctions. If every citizen can access internet, they could as well be asked to make a Facebook account and data regarding caste could be collected with ease. It will save us the headache.” an official working in the office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India said on conditions of anonymity.

“We would be happy to help India progress and advance into a modern society.”  Mark Zuckerberg said, expressing happiness that the caste-based features had received largely positive feedback.