Facebook, Community, Bringing People Closer Together, and Misaligned Incentives

You likely heard the bigs news coming out of the Facebook community summit in Chicago. Facebook has changed their mission.

The old:

To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

The new:

To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

Sounds good in theory. It’s 100% true — the world is more divided than ever, and someone needs to do something about it.

Making community accessible globally is the fundamental mission of Horizon. I‘m not spending years of my life and a considerable amount of my own money working on solving a problem I don’t believe to be important. Thus, it’s clear, I agree — building community is vitally important to the future of the human race.

That said, I see a fundamental misalignment of financial incentives for Facebook to be the company to address it.

Bringing the world closer together and building community — means more time in person with each other. It doesn’t mean additional time staring at a screen. At least, to me. Maybe Facebook has a different view on what “community” and “closer together” mean.

Facebook’s business model thrives on getting people to spend more and more time on Facebook (and other apps w/ Facebook logins), so they can target ads to you (on and off of FB). The more eyeballs and time spent, the more money they make. That’s the opposite of bringing people closer together.

Does Facebook really believe in building community enough to cannibalize their existing ad revenue for their new mission which requires facilitating offline interactions? I do sincerely, sincerely hope they do, but I’m not convinced it’s going to happen.

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