Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg in town to meet community leaders

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg (middle) with staff and community leaders from Singapore and the region at the first Asia-Pacific Facebook Community event at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg (middle) with staff and community leaders from Singapore and the region at the first Asia-Pacific Facebook Community event at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.PHOTO: SHERYL SANDBERG/FACEBOOK

A woman in a black blazer leaned in, at times nodding, as people at a long table took turns to talk about their projects yesterday in a conference room at Marina Bay Sands.

Ms Sheryl Sandberg, the No. 2 at Facebook, was in town yesterday, on her first visit to Singapore for the American tech giant. She held a talk for female Facebook employees on Tuesday, and yesterday met eight representatives who started social projects using Facebook Groups at the first Asia-Pacific Facebook Community event at Marina Bay Sands.

"Before social media, one person couldn't just start something. And what social media, like Facebook, really aims to change, is to give every single person a voice," said the Facebook chief operating officer.

Over brunch snacks like bacon strips and granola, she heard from the eight "regional community leaders" from Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. These leaders are administrators who run and manage Facebook Groups for social good, such as raising awareness of congenital diseases or helping domestic workers learn about financial literacy.

Over 420 million people, or 56 per cent of active Facebook users in the Asia-Pacific, use Facebook Groups. It is the fastest-growing region in terms of the number of people who use the function, said Ms Sandberg.

"We are making a major investment in Groups," she said. "The engineering, the product teams are really growing, so you will definitely see a lot more features and functionalities come to Groups."

It is not known how long Ms Sandberg's visit would be.

One of the community leaders at the event was Ms Jacqueline Loh, chief executive of Singapore non-governmental organisation Aidha, which teaches maids how to manage their money and start businesses. She said it was "insightful" to hear of the ways in which Facebook is used to enable interactions in various communities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2017, with the headline 'Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg in town to meet community leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe