The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a catalyst for the growing importance of online communities in India over the past year.

According to Facebook and NYU's GovLab report, ‘The Power of Virtual Communities,’ 91 per cent of the respondents globally said they were able to provide some form of support via these online groups, including helping local vulnerable residents with their groceries during the lockdown, sharing vital information from health authorities, and providing emotional and financial support to local businesses.

For 42.1 per cent of Indians, their most important group is online.

Over 92 per cent of respondents in a study said they received some form of support through online community groups during the pandemic. Over 38.8 per cent of people in India said online groups have become “significantly more important” as compared to responses from the rest of the world (29.5 per cent).

The report further added that over 1.8 billion people across the world use Facebook Groups every month. More than half of all users are in five or more groups, while more than 70 million admins and moderators run Facebook Groups.

Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India said, “People use our family of apps to express themselves, connect with each other, find meaningful connections and build supportive communities. The pandemic has shown how important these online communities are. Digital communities have brought people together around a shared trait or interest and have become spaces for people to find compassion and support.”

The GovLab interviewed 50 leaders of Facebook Groups from 17 countries, 26 digital community experts in 11 countries, along with Facebook internal research, literature review, and a parallel survey conducted by YouGov, involving 15,000 respondents from 15 countries, to learn more about the role of communities in a digital age, the role of leaders, and how Facebook can support them in running their communities.