Zuckerberg Manifesto: How He Plans to Debug the World
In a 5,800-word post on Facebook, founder of the social network discusses plans to ‘build a global community that works for everyone’ against the rising sentiment of isolationism
NEW YORK: Mark Zuckerberg’s long-term vision for Facebook, laid out in a sweeping manifesto , sometimes sounds more like a utopian social guide than a business plan. Are we, he asks, “building the world we all want?’’ While most people now use Facebook to connect with friends and family, Zuckerberg hopes that the social network can encourage more civic engagement, an informed public and community support in the years to come. Facebook now has nearly 2 billion members, which makes it larger than any nation in the world.
His 5,800-word essay positions Facebook in direct opposition to a rising tide of isolationism and fear of outsiders, both in the US and abroad. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Zuckerberg stressed he wasn’t motivated by the US election or any other particular event. Rather, he said, it’s the growing sentiment in many parts of the world that “connecting the world’’ _ the founding idea behind Facebook _ is no longer a good thing.
“Across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection,’’ Zuckerberg, who fou nde d F ac eb o ok in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, wrote on Thursday. “In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.’’
Zuckerberg, 32, told the AP that he still strongly believes that more connectedness is the right direction for the world. But, he adds, it’s “not enough if it’s good for some
people but it’s doesn’t work for other people. We really have to bring everyone along.’’
I t ’ s h a r d ly a s u r pr i s e t h at Zuckerberg wants to find ways to bring more people together, especially on Facebook. After all, getting more people to come together more frequently would give Facebook more opportunities to sell the ads that generate most of its revenue, which totaled $ 27 billion last year. And bringing in more money probably would boost Facebook’s stock price to make Zuckerberg _ already worth an estimated $56 billion _ even richer. And while the idea of unifying the world is laudable, some critics _ backed various studies _ contend Facebook makes some people feel lonelier and more isolated as they
scroll through the mostly ebullient posts and photos shared on the social network. Facebook’s famous “like’’ button also makes it easy to engage in a form of “one-click’’ communication that replaces meaningful dialogue. Facebook also has been lambasted as polarizing force by circulating posts espousing similar viewpoints and interests among like-minded people, creating an “echo chamber’’ that can harden opinions and widen political and cultural chasms.
Today, most of Facebook’s 1.86 billion members _ about 85 percent _ live outside of the U.S. and Canada. The Menlo Park, California-based company has offices everywhere from Amsterdam to Jakar ta, Indonesia, to Tel Aviv, Israel. (It is banned in China, the world’s most populous country, though some people get around the ban.) Naaturally, Zuckerberg takes a global view of Facebook and sees potential that goes beyond borders, cities and nations.
That could allow the social network to step up as more traditional cultural ties fray. People already use Facebook to connect with strangers who have the same rare disease, to post political diatribes, to share news links (and sometimes fake news links ). Facebook has also pushed its users to register to vote, to donate to causes, to mark themselves safe after natural disasters, and to “go live .’’ For many, it’s become a utility. Some 1.23 billion people use it daily. “For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families. With that foundation, our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community _ for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all,’’ he wrote.
LONG TERM VIEW
Zuckerberg has gotten Facebook to this position of global dominance _ one that Myspace and Twitter, for instance, never even approached _ partly thanks to his audacious, long-term view of the company and its place in the world. “Looki ng a head, one of ou r greatest opportunities to keep people safe is building artificial intelligence to understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community,’’ he wrote.