When you think of Mark Zuckerberg you might think of an entrepreneur, or the owner of the most successful social media site on planet Earth…or maybe something less complementary? However, It is easy to see that what Mark Zuckerberg has done with Facebook is genius, in fact I bet you wish you had thought of it first!
Following his latest manifesto we are now being invited to think of him as an instigator of global social equality! In his latest post he is talking about “ending terrorism, fighting climate change and preventing pandemics,” and it is difficult to be convinced that this can all be achieved through a social media site popularised for sharing your favourite meme with your significant other.
To underestimate the power of Facebook as just a communication tool, however, would be a mistake. Throughout his mainfesto, called “Building Global Community“, Zuckerberg makes a point of noting that Facebook does not claim to be able to facilitate social changes on its own; it can only provide a platform for this ‘global community’ to grow. However, this leads to the question of what exactly the ‘global community’ is and how can it work for all of us? Well, Zuckerberg breaks this down into five sections; supportive community, safe community, informed community, civically-engaged community and inclusive community. In an age of increased globalisation could the ideas outlined but Zuckerberg in this manifesto help the creative community flourish?
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.
The essay was around 6000 words long (I had to read it in two sittings…does that say more about me or Zuckerberg?) and it must be said the Facebook CEO did appear to have pretty good ideas. He wants to build a community that allows for the freedom to be together, a place where individuals can feel safe and supported by other like-minded people. For the creative community this could be nothing but good news. If Zuckerberg is successful in achieving his aspirations then, perhaps, the creative community will have an improved space to share ideas and network, possibly improving real life relationships and creating opportunities.
However, Zuckerberg appears to have put forward a few contrasting ideas. Can we have
communities that are informed, inclusive and civically-engaged all at the same time? Humans have opposing beliefs, we cannot simply all agree on something and we do not all have the same interests, and this causes disagreements. Therefore, it can be argued that not everyone will be informed and inclusive. For example, the controversy surrounding the iconic Vietnam war photograph named the ‘Napalm Girl‘ where Facebook walked the tight rope between those who saw this as an important historical photograph, and those who were simply offended at the sight of a naked child. It may be difficult for Zuckerberg to create a unified ‘global community’ with such divided opinions on important issues, as seen on Facebook at the time of the Trump vs. Clinton election.
Today Facebook is an important tool for communication, it is difficult to think of someone who is not using it; in fact I’m guessing it’s one of the first things you look at when you wake up. Although ignoring Facebook all together when it comes to social issues would be a great waste of potential, it is difficult to visualise Facebook as an entity that will be used more for social change than it is for sharing that funny cat video you found or pictures of your grandkids on their first day of school. However, it is important not to underestimate the influence of Facebook.
Mr Zuckerberg, however, should also be aware of the tendency to rage against the man when people think he’s getting too big for his boots.