Zoom Is Preventing Rumors In India That It is A Chinese language Firm
After the Indian government banned 59 apps from Chinese companies last week, the video conferencing app Zoom combats xenophobic rumors on social media that it is Chinese-owned. It’s not like that – the company is American and tries to keep the Indians informed.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Velchamy Sankarlingam, Zoom’s President for Product and Technology, tried to clear up misinformation about Zoom’s country of origin. The company, he reminded people, is based in the United States.
“We recognize that as we continue to roll out into the Indian market, there has been some confusion about the facts regarding Zoom. Some of the misconceptions are daunting, especially the one about Zoom and China. Zoom was aware of its identity: Zoom is a US company that is listed on the NASDAQ and is headquartered in San Jose, California. And like many global tech companies, Zoom has offices in China operated by subsidiaries of its US parent company. “
Sankarlingam’s post came days after India’s ban on Chinese company apps like TikTok following border collisions between countries. In the days leading up to the ban, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, Facebook’s own instant messaging app most Indians use, were filled with messages urging nationalist Indians to uninstall apps from Chinese companies.
However, in some of these messages, Zoom was incorrectly identified as a Chinese-owned app.
One of the pioneers that went viral on WhatsApp was a list of 40 apps, including Zoom. “China is making tons of money a day from the above apps,” read the message, which refers to an Indian currency unit. “You should uninstall these apps from your phone ASAP and ask 10 friends and their friends to do the same. Take up the challenge! #Boycott China. “
Shortly after the ban, a deluge of local competitors sprang up with their own versions of the restricted apps. Last week India’s Jio Platforms, the country’s largest telecommunications company, launched its own video conferencing app called JioMeet, which has been criticized as a zoom rip-off.
According to analysts, Zoom was mistaken for a Chinese app because of the rapid spread of misinformation on social media and the fact that its CEO Eric Yuan is a Chinese-American.
“The prevailing anti-Chinese sentiment in the country and the reach of social media among Indian consumers formed the general perception that Zoom is a Chinese company,” said Prachir Singh, senior research analyst at research firm Counterpoint. “The reason Zoom’s clarifications about its origins are that the company wants to expand its presence in India.”
It’s a perception that Zoom is aggressively trying to change.
“There has been significant misinformation and apparent inaccuracies regarding Zoom regarding China from various channels,” a Zoom spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “In India, we pride ourselves on helping businesses, government agencies, communities, school teachers and other users stay connected during this global health crisis.”
In the contribution by the Indian-American Sankarlingam, the company played out its “commitment to India” and spoke about its office in Mumbai and two Indian data centers. It also talked about its plans to invest in and hire out of India over the next five years.
“Three of Zoom’s top executives are of Indian descent,” wrote Sankarlingam.
The company also bought advertised tweets on Twitter earlier this week to expand the reach of Sankarlingam’s Post in India.
This isn’t the first time Zoom has faced an identity crisis. After security researchers found that Zoom forwarded some calls on the platform through servers in China in April, Yuan wrote a blog post underlining both his American and his own American references.
“I want to clarify the record here,” wrote Yuan. “I became an American citizen in July 2007. I have been living happily in America since 1997. Zoom is an American company incorporated and headquartered in California, incorporated in Delaware, and publicly traded on NASDAQ (ZM).”