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

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

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.


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.

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