GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK THE LONG-TERM VIEW
Zuckerberg has a general but vague vision for Facebook and the world itself,he posts on the social media network
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 who use Facebook now use it 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 United States and abroad. In a phone interview, Zuckerberg stressed that he wasn’t motivated by the U.S. 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 founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, wrote 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, said he still strongly believes that more connectedness is the right direction for the world. But, he added, 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.”
The letter is short on specific details and plans Facebook has in the works. And it doesn’t mention anything about Facebook as a business, its billions in advertising revenue or the targeted marketing it is often criticized for. Zuckerberg said Facebook provides regular updates on how its business is doing and product launches — and that this is meant to be different. Today most of Facebook’s 1.86 billion members — about 85 percent — live outside of the United States and Canada. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has offices everywhere from the Netherlands to Indonesia to Israel. (It is banned in China, the world’s most populous country, though some people get around the ban.) Naturally, Zuckerberg takes a global view of Facebook, and sees potential that goes beyond borders, cities and nations.
And that could allow the social network to step up as more traditional cultural ties fray. For many it’s become a utility. About 1.23 billion people use it daily. Facebook groups, which allow people to come together based on shared interests, could play a bigger role in this respect, Zuckerberg suggests. In groups, people talk about everything from knitting to parenting to political activism. More than 100 million people are in at least one Facebook group. He laments the fading of traditional social communities such as churches, labor unions and local groups.
“A healthy society needs these communities to support our personal, emotional and spiritual needs,” Zuckerberg wrote. In Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, Facebook can help build communities, encourage civic engagement and keep us safer and more informed. That’s the long-term plan, at least, years down the line. He outlined his view for the social network and the world in a sweeping 5,500-word manifesto posted on his Facebook page Thursday. It’s as much a vision for the world as it is a missive for Facebook. Writing to the 1.86 billion-member Facebook community, Zuckerberg asks, first and foremost, “Are we building the world we all want?” Here are some excerpts:
“Online communities are a bright spot, and we can strengthen existing physical communities by helping people come together online as well as offline. In the same way connecting with friends online strengthens real relationships, developing this infrastructure will strengthen these communities, as well as enable new ones to form.”
Preventing harm and helping others
“Today’s threats are increasingly global, but the infrastructure to protect us is not. Problems like terrorism, natural disasters, disease, refugee crises, and climate change need coordinated responses from a worldwide vantage point. No nation can solve them alone.”
“I have long expected more organizations and startups to build health and safety tools using technology, and I have been surprised by how little of what must be built has even been attempted. There is a real opportunity to build global safety infrastructure.”
An informed public
“Social media is a short-form medium where resonant messages get amplified many times. This rewards simplicity and discourages nuance. At its best, this focuses messages and exposes people to different ideas. At its worst, it oversimplifies important topics and pushes us towards extremes.”
“A strong news industry is also critical to building an informed community. Giving people a voice is not enough without having people dedicated to uncovering new information and analyzing it.”
“Our world is more connected than ever, and we face global problems that span national boundaries. As the largest global community, Facebook can explore examples of how community governance might work at scale.”
“(Our) community is evolving from its origin connecting us with family and friends to now becoming a source of news and public discourse as well. With this cultural shift, our Community Standards must adapt to permit more newsworthy and historical content, even if some is objectionable.”
“The idea is to give everyone in the community options for how they would like to set the content policy for themselves. Where is your line on nudity? On violence? On graphic content? On profanity? What you decide will be your personal settings.”
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, released a missive Thursday outlining his vision for the social network and the world at large. Among other things, Zuckerberg hopes that the social network can encourage more civic engagement, an informed public and community support in the years to come.