Zucker­berg has a gen­eral but vague vi­sion for Face­book and the world it­self,he posts on the so­cial me­dia net­work

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - BUSINESS - By Bar­bara Ortutay

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.”

Civic en­gage­ment

“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.”

Shift­ing stan­dards

“(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.

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