What really happens when a billionaire businessman has a political agenda?
Mark Zuckerberg recently posted a lengthy and ambitious manifesto setting out Facebook’s future while responding to the ‘fake news’ controversy. The manifesto detailed Zuckerberg’s vision of a global community, and suggests that Facebook is on its way to being a global ideological movement.
While thousands took to their keyboards to leave approving comments, some scepticism remains. The hefty proposition is in some areas a little vague, and leaves room for a number of questions.
What initially comes to mind is, how can you lead a global community when you profit from capturing users’ attention and then selling it to advertisers? Zuckerberg mentions “the people left behind by globalisation” all while managing to pay minute amounts of tax. How genuine is wanting to build on certain areas of our communities while being unwilling to pay towards benefiting the ones we have now?
Among claims that this is an attempt to purchase political power, perhaps we must acknowledge the fact that he has attempted to formulate a political vision in the first place. Of course, society needs powerful people with good intentions, but we must always look a little deeper.
Should Facebook be involving itself in a political agenda in the first place? The power that Facebook holds can be used to exploit citizens in unparalleled ways. The picture we can receive when thinking about Facebook’s involvement in the government is fearfully close to resembling ‘big brother’.
While Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community, when will we begin to see some changes? While the examples he gives which regard how Facebook is a tool for great changes, is it just that? A tool? At the end of the day, the power still resides in the people, and for us to help one another it takes the person to do so, and not the tool.
Is this what our future community looks like? (Source: Rosaura Ochoa via Flickr).
book’s future plans seem to rely heavily on artificial intelligence, which are still in the ‘early stages’ of creation. While Facebook is in a position to stop crisis, currently it can hardly seem to battle trolls with its current advances – let alone prevent harm.
Additionally, the risk of putting so much into an online community risks losing the offline one. As we become more and more concerned about what is happening online, we risk becoming less aware of what is happening offline. While it becomes easier to talk to strangers in cyberspace, it becomes more difficult to talk to our neighbours in reality. Is this the kind of global community we really want to build?
While Facebook has long encouraged people to spend increasing time online, where we can “look at many activities through the lens of a building community” like “reading our favourite newspaper” – all seems a little hypocritical while he fails to mention that activities such as reading our favourite newspapers will not always be an option if Facebook continues to prove itself as one of the biggest challenges to the publishing industry today.
A huge hand points to the old ‘actions speak louder than words’. Critical analysis aside – nothing is impossible, and technological advances have exceeded our expectations before. He is right to claim that it needs to start somewhere, and myself, I hope he succeeds.
(Featured Image: The Crunchies! via Flickr)