Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new mission statement for the popular 13-year-old social network at its inaugural Communities Summit in Chicago on Thursday — a meeting for administrators of Facebook groups. As Facebook grapples with existential questions over its growing influence and role in people's lives, Zuckerberg announced the firm's new updated purpose: "Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."
Zuckerberg said he was mulling over the idea "for a long time" and said he believed they had a responsibility to do more than "simply connect the world".
"For the past 10 years, our mission has been to make the world more open and connected," Zuckerberg said. "We will always work to give people a voice and help us stay connected, but now we will do even more.
"We need to give people a voice to get a diversity of opinions out there, but we also need to build enough common ground so we can all make progress together."
Here are some of the key takeaways behind Zuckerberg's decision to expand Facebook's mission statement and focus on communities:
1. No one person or country can solve the world's biggest problems
As the world becomes more connected, Zuckerberg said no single group or country can single-handedly tackle some of the world's biggest problems alone.
"We have to build a world where people come together to take on these big meaningful efforts," Zuckerberg said. "This isn't going to happen top down. There's no one in the world who can snap their fingers and make this happen. People have to want it. Change starts local, when enough of us feel a sense of purpose and support in our own lives that we can start caring about broader issues too."
2. How building "meaningful communities" can help bring people together
As participation in local communities declines across the globe, the 33-year-old executive said building "meaningful" groups online can help strengthen existing physical communities "by helping people come together online as well as offline".
More than 100 million people are currently members of what they consider "meaningful communities", he said.
"If you're diagnosed with a rare disease, you can join a group and connect with people with that condition all around the world so you're not alone," he explains. "If you're a new parent, you can join a group and get support from other new mothers and fathers. These communities don't just interact online. They hold get-togethers, organize dinners, and support each other in their daily lives."
As Facebook approaches the two billion monthly users milestone, the firm now aims to help one billion people join such communities. To help them do so, the company is using artificial intelligence to suggest relevant groups and is turning to community leaders to take charge.
"Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us. Every one of you does this for your communities", Zuckerberg said, addressing 300 group leaders from 34 US states.
From groups to help adopted children find their birth parents to support groups for people experiencing or recovering from addiction, Zuckerberg said these groups will help "strengthen the social fabric", give individuals a sense of support and purpose and help bring people from across the globe together.
Facebook's new tools for Facebook Groups
Facebook has also announced new tools for Facebook group admins at the event including a real-time metrics tool, a membership request filtering tool and a post-scheduling tool.
The new mission statement and focus on community building comes as Zuckerberg continues to visit various communities in every state in the US this year as part of his "personal challenge" for 2017. His tour across the country also triggered rampant rumours of a potential run for the White House in the future. However, he has dismissed these rumours.
"When you bring people together, you never know where it will lead," he said.