The Global Village…err…..Community

Last Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg published Building Global Community which basically reads as a long form mission statement for the future of Facebook. In this manifesto, Zuckerberg states his belief that Facebook is obligated to build the social infrastructure that will empower people to build a supportive, safe, informed, engaged, inclusive global community. This global community that Zuckerberg spoke to harkens back to the amalgamate yet unified global village that Marshall McLuhan first introduced over 50-years ago. It is too early to analyze

  • Zuckerberg, while he may not have done so actively or purposefully, applied the media theory of articulation and assemblage to Global Communities. You can look no further than the opening line of the Supportive Communities section (below) or his multiple explanations of how he intends to develop tools to connect the various social fabrics of society.
“Building a global community that works for everyone starts with the millions of smaller communities and intimate social structures we turn to for our personal, emotional and spiritual needs.”
  • I have a sense that the below quote by Zuckerberg will be met with skepticism, truthfully, upon reading it I was dubious. But then I recalled a Facebook group that I joined around a year ago upon the invitation of an old high school buddy. I’ve been relatively active in this group and this activity has led to a stronger relationship with an old friend through the inclusion of more mutual connections, even if many of them have been through Facebook Groups, these experience inevitably trickle into real life when I make my way back home to visit family and the few friends I still in my hometown.
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.
  • At multiple times during our class, we’ve discussed the journalist code of ethics which makes me wonder how A) journalists or traditional media companies will react to this proposed AI that will be leveraged to validate the credibility and fairness of news stories, and B) will Facebook have to adopt similar standards of journalism, especially now that Mark Zuckerberg has walked backed his stance on Facebook not being a media company?
It will take many years to fully develop these systems. Right now, we’re starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization. This is technically difficult as it requires building AI that can read and understand news, but we need to work on this to help fight terrorism worldwide.
  • I’m very curious how Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg execute on their plan of a more informed Community. The accuracy of information, especially automated scalable accuracy is a difficult problem to solve. It is difficult to balance the information scale when considering nuance, satire, and opinion. And even if that balance is found, Facebook must do a better job of communicating and demonstrating their solution is an objective one. If not, it will likely find itself being a part of similar dialogues we are having today around the validity of friendships on Facebook (the algorithmic friendship) or the suppression of perspectives (conservatives news on Facebook).
Over time, our community will identify which sources provide a complete range of perspectives so that content will naturally surface more.

It seems that McLuhan’s analogy of the world as a global village, or community, continues to be more precise, especially if Facebook succeeds in crafting a social infrastructure that facilitates a more open and connected world. I believe the question McLuhan hopes that Zuckerberg is pondering is what are the cultural benefits humanity will reap from Facebook’s developments, and what are the potential consequences of such technology?

Keywords: global community, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg