“Make the world more open and connected ”had a fundamental flaw: it did not lead to any specific positive results of a greater connection. Technically, this could encompass digital voyeurism via the News Feed, the exchange of in-person friendship for online acquaintance, or the filtering bubbles and echospheres that have further polarized the United States.
So today, as Facebook approaches 2 billion monthly users, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed a new mission statement, “Empower people to build community and bring the world closer together.” “
We have a responsibility to do more. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg announced the change today at the Facebook Communities Summit for Senior Group Admins, where he announced new group management tools. “For the past ten years or so, we have strived to make the world more open and connected. But I thought if we just gave people a voice and helped some people connect, it would make the world a lot better on its own, ”Zuckerberg admits. “Look around you and our society is as divided as ever. We have a responsibility to do more, not only to connect the world, but to bring the world closer together. “
Rather than making the new mission a simple philosophy, Zuckerberg says Facebook is making it a goal. “We want to help 1 billion people reach meaningful communities. If we can do this, not only will it reverse the utter decline in community membership we’ve seen around the world… but it will also strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together. At present, Facebook considers that there are only 100 million significant members of the group.
The evolution of Facebook’s mission statement is an important step in its transformation. Catalyzed by the fake news scandals surrounding the US presidential election, Zuckerberg first laid the groundwork with his 6,000-word community letter on “Building Community,” which focused on what Facebook could do to help. He noted that “when we started this idea was not controversial. Each year the world has become more connected and this has been seen as a positive trend. Yet now across the world there are people being left behind by globalization and movements to pull out of the global connection. “
Then, in his opening speech at Harvard, he explained how individuals could help “create a world where every person has a purpose.” Now Zuckerberg has codified those intentions into Facebook’s charter.
“We’re getting to a size where it’s definitely worth taking a hard look at what we can do to make social media the most positive force possible for good,” Chris Cox, Facebook product manager, told me. in an interview. in a glass-walled conference room inside Facebook’s sprawling headquarters. He sees the new mission as a “refinement”, with nested proximity as a more specific form of connection.
“Missions have a way of becoming the way we talk about what we do and we justify things to each other,” Cox explains. “Proximity really resonates like something that is both technological – now we can be connected in ways that we couldn’t before – but it’s also deeply human.” Proving that humanity has become a central theme, both for Facebook, with more emphasis on privacy in recent years, and for Zuckerberg, with his listening tour across the country.
Cox agrees that there is a difference between “connecting” to endless and unhealthy browsing on Facebook and comparing it to others that can make people feel isolated, and the “closeness” of forging friendships and relationships. deeper civic ties. He also says that Facebook is constantly looking for qualitative feedback from users on what is meaningful and what is not meaningful in their experience. Cox did not respond if Facebook specifically investigated internet addiction and refuted claims that too much Facebook makes people depressed, but insists that there is “a deep sense of responsibility in every part of the world. ‘business”.
The real test will be tracking, and where Facebook is willing to prioritize its mission over its business. This could mean alienating some of its most intolerant users, making changes that decrease the number of ads people see, or improving user privacy and control in ways that reduce the flow of monetizable data the business receives.
Facebook can accomplish its new mission by accepting that more Facebook isn’t always the answer. Ideally, Facebook’s communication tools and content algorithms would become so good that they seem to disappear, allowing people to come closer without being stuck in between.
You can read Zuckerberg’s full speech here and watch his Communities Summit speech below: