Chris Hughes is called ”the kid who made Barack Obama President of the United States”. By developing the most robust set of virtual platforms ever used in a political campaign, he enabled millions of Obama supporters to connect with each other in the run- up to the US presidential elections in 2008.
But that’s not the only impressive part of the bio- data of this 26- yearold. Together with his Harvard roommates Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, Hughes co- founded Facebook, and the extent of the site’s popularity was evident from the houseful turnout at his session on ‘The Power of Social Networking’.
Hughes took the audience through his Facebook story and the successful Obama campaign in a session that began with its moderator, India Today Group Digital chief operating officer Kalli Purie, introducing him with these words: ”Do not be fooled by his innocence. He has already done too much in life.”
‘We’re experiencing an information revolution,” Hughes declared.”This is the kind of revolution that comes every few years. It’s like the television and radio revolution that changed our lives in the 19th Century. Now, whoever has access to communication technologies has the ability to create information.”
Making a presentation on Facebook, Hughes said it was a network that helped people connect with those they cared about. ”It is a direct expression of who you are as a person. I’m often asked a question about how we got the idea of starting Facebook . It came from the basic requirement to connect with each other,” he added.
Talking about the immense popularity of the site, Hughes said Facebook has about 400 million active users. ”Out of these, 70 per cent are from outside the US. About 50 per cent of the users return to the site daily and an average user has about 130 friends. But this is not saying that it’s a popularity contest.”
But Hughes also cautioned the audience about technology taking over our lives. Fielding a question from a delegate on privacy issues and sexual offences online, he said users had complete control over their content. ” The way we choose our friends in real life, we should do the same on the web too. We should be careful and should not connect with people we don’t know,” he said.
The message must have gone down well, judging from the barrage of tweets it inspired.