Last night, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg poured his heart out in a lengthy 6000-word letter about the need for people to work towards making this world a better place, his suggestions to some of the things that could contribute to that, and in all these years, how Facebook has worked towards it.
Zuck talks about ideas that are ambitious, wide-ranging, well-intentioned and sometimes a little naïve, which however together intend to shed light on Facebook’s next aspirations, extending its next moves far beyond photo albums, videos and celebrity livestreams. He wants us to know that Facebook understands its social responsibility.
“Our greatest challenges also need global responses — like ending terrorism, fighting climate change, and preventing pandemics. Progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Although lengthy, even if you agree or disagree with his views, each word in the letter deserves a read. But for the lazies who count the number of pages before they read a book, here is a summary about what Zuckerberg wants to tell us.
Zuckerberg talks about the idea of community in our society, whether it’s online or offline, and the importance of these communities. He then draws a parallel to the online communities on Facebook that are beyond just being a common ground to share memes and jokes, but hold social importance with (as he exemplifies) groups for single dads, groups that help refugees find shelter, or communities for first time mothers.
“A woman named Christina was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa — and now she’s a member of a group that connects 2,400 people around the world so none of them have to suffer alone. A man named Matt was raising his two sons by himself and he started the Black Fathers group to help men share advice and encouragement as they raise their families,” he wrote. ALSO READ: Facebook reveals the secret sauce behind Style Transfer for videos
Now, in the aspect of communities, he talks about the social responsibility associated with them, which he lists as supportive, safe, informed, civically-engaged, and an inclusive community. And here he discusses how Facebook has been working, and how it has sometimes failed, and plans to work in the future to fulfill these aspects of a community. He highlights features like Safety Check, Amber Alerts, and end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that have meant to deal with users’ safety.
Interestingly, the letter is also a change in direction from Zuckerberg’s initial total denial for following the election, as many blamed fake news and filter bubbles on Facebook for influencing the election results, to him now writing, “This has been painful for me because I often agree with those criticizing us that we’re making mistakes.” He further says that Facebook has made laudable efforts like “newsworthy videos related to Black Lives Matter and police violence, and in removing the historical Terror of War photo from Vietnam.”
Although after putting stress on Facebook’s project to make the AI stronger to be able to understand the difference between fake and real news, satires and offensive content, he eventually moves on to put it on how it’s humanly impossible to keep a check on the myriads of posts shared by over a billion of users.
Mark Zuckerberg also points out the efforts the company is making to keep people informed about the projects to bring internet to everyone, and making its communities civically-engaged with its initiatives to encourage its users to participate in the electoral votings. As for creating an inclusive community, that looks primarily like a project for future for Facebook.