Mark Zuckerbeg released a 5500 word manifesto on his Facebook page on Thursday about the importance of building communities around the world. Each point is liberally sprinkled with Facebook’s achievements (not surprising), but offers no real solutions to the social media giant’s problems. Here’s what you need to know:
Build a More Global Community
In a time where Brexit is real and divisive politics is becoming all too common, Zuckerberg plans to connect people all over the world:
“Progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community.
Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community. When we began, this idea was not controversial. Every year, the world got more connected and this was seen as a positive trend. Yet now, across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection. “
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.”
To build a more global community, we must have stronger smaller communities for our personal, emotional and spiritual needs, says Zuckerberg. “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 completely new ones to form.” Zuckerberg says Facebook has a lot of ‘meaningful’ groups now and gives examples of how a few people used Facebook as a tool to connect to those who need help and how.
Invest in Safety Infrastructure
In a world dominated by constant global threats and terror attacks, Zuckerberg wants to help humanity be safer. He writes, “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, and I have directed Facebook to invest more and more resources into serving this need.”
Zuckerberg then talks about Facebook’s amber alerts and safety check features and how it has helped several people around the world. He also talks about developing AI and not compromising on users’ privacy. “Since building end-to-end encryption into WhatsApp, we have reduced spam and malicious content by more than 75%.”
Facebook has recently come under fire for the spread of fake news and doing little by the way of fact-checking. Since many people get their news from links other people share on Facebook, the quality of information that is shared can be problematic. Zuckerberg says, “We know there is misinformation and even outright hoax content on Facebook, and we take this very seriously.” Zuckerberg also boasts about Facebook’s ‘diverse content’: “Compared with getting our news from the same two or three TV networks or reading the same newspapers with their consistent editorial views, our networks on Facebook show us more diverse content.”
Zuckerberg talks about tackling sensationalism and offers a few ways to tackle it. He goes on to emphasise that “the vast majority of conversations on Facebook are social, not ideological. They’re friends sharing jokes and families staying in touch across cities.”
Zuckerberg wants people to be more participative in self-governance. He cites examples of how Facebook has encouraged voters to participate in the electoral process: “In the United States election last year, we helped more than 2 million people register to vote and then go vote. This was among the largest voter turnout efforts in history, and larger than those of both major parties combined.”
He also writes about how crucial local civil engagement is. “In India, Prime Minister Modi has asked his ministers to share their meetings and information on Facebook so they can hear direct feedback from citizens. In Kenya, whole villages are in WhatsApp groups together,” and adds about how social media is becoming primary medium for civic communication, “In recent campaigns around the world — from India and Indonesia across Europe to the United States — we’ve seen the candidate with the largest and most engaged following on Facebook usually wins.”
Zuckerberg admits to his ‘errors’ and taking down content ostensibly due to pressure from authorities (something he never explicitly mentions): “We saw this in errors taking down newsworthy videos related to Black Lives Matter and police violence, and in removing the historical Terror of War photo from Vietnam. We’ve seen this in misclassifying hate speech in political debates in both directions — taking down accounts and content that should be left up and leaving up content that was hateful and should be taken down.”
He also talks about Facebook needs to have different norms across cultures and promises to reduce the number of errors. He has an idea: “The idea is to give everyone in the community options for how they would like to set the content policy for themselves.”
Content will not be shown to those who do not wish to see said content: “With a broader range of controls, content will only be taken down if it is more objectionable than the most permissive options allow.”
“I hope we have the focus to take the long view and build the new social infrastructure to create the world we want for generations to come,” signs off Mark.