CHICAGO, Illinois, June 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook communities can fill the void left by decreasing religious participation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested last week.
Zuckerberg wants groups formed on his social media platform to fill the role in people’s lives once held by churches and groups such as little league teams.
People are in need of purpose and support, the millennial social media mogul said, and Facebook groups can provide that meaning.
“It's so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter,” Zuckerberg said. “That's a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.”
Speaking to Facebook’s first Communities Summit in Chicago last week, Zuckerberg also said people are basically good and want to help others. But he said the motivation for people to give of their time or money was as much from a sense of community as much than their faith.
“People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity,” Zuckerberg said, “not just because they're religious but because they're part of a community.”
Facebook gathered administrators of groups on its platform in Chicago last week for the summit. Zuckerberg has also been touring the U.S. to meet and hear from Americans. His appearances have fueled speculation that he may run for office in the future.
His 13-year-old social media site recently reached roughly two billion users. The average user belongs to 30 groups, and while more than one billion are members of groups, just 100 million are in “meaningful groups,” or groups where they have a sense of purpose.
Zuckerberg wants that number of users in “meaningful” groups to be one billion, such that “we're going to change Facebook's whole mission to take this on.”
He wants to connect groups around common interests or beliefs but also issues.
“In the next generation, our greatest opportunities and challenges we can only take on together,” Zuckerberg said, “ending poverty, curing disease, stopping climate change, spreading freedom and tolerance, stopping terrorism.”
Speaking about this effort, he equated leadership with a caretaking role.
“A church doesn't just come together,” said Zuckerberg. “It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter. A little league team has a coach who motivates the kids and helps them hit better. Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us.”
Concerns were raised late last year with Facebook’s announcement that it planned to use a number of reputed fact-checker sites and otherwise liberal media entities to combat so-called “fake news.”
Facebook’s choice of partners — Snopes, Factcheck.org, ABC News and Politicfact — to supposedly curtail fake news immediately drew red flags over potential censorship of pro-life or other traditional values reporting.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced plans to “talk more openly about some complex subjects.”
Among the questions Facebook Vice President for Public Policy and Communications Elliot Schrage said are under consideration are: How aggressively social media companies should monitor and remove controversial posts and images from their platforms. Who gets to decide what’s controversial, especially with a global audience and various cultural norms? And who gets to define what’s false news versus simply controversial political speech?
The forces behind Facebook make no bones about use of its platform for a particular agenda.
After the Obergefell Supreme Court decision imposed legalized gay “marriage” on the U.S. in June 2015, the social media platform promptly instituted a Celebrate Pride profile picture tool containing a rainbow flag overlay. The tool quickly became a means by which one could either show support for gay “marriage” via a Facebook profile or in theory also be identified as not supporting it.
In 2014, Facebook unveiled a feature allowing users to choose between some 50 gender identity entries for their personal profile. Users can now choose between male and female, or customize their own.
Earlier this year, Facebook blocked a Christian blogger’s account several times because she made Bible-based posts critical of homosexuality. Facebook staff later apologized and restored her access.
Gizmodo.com published statements last year from a former Facebook staffer saying the social media giant’s “news curators” “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section.”
The Facebook curators were also directed to artificially “inject” certain stories into the trending news module, regardless of whether they were popular enough to be included or weren’t trending at all. They were also told not to include news about Facebook itself in the trending module.
Facebook’s news curation came into question the year before as well when Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts trafficking scandal initially broke, with speculation that trending news skewed on its site to mitigate the abortion giant’s role in the scandal.
Zuckerberg himself also openly lobbies for liberal issues.
He joined with the heads of several tech companies earlier this spring in writing to Gov. Greg Abbott to oppose Texas legislation they deemed discriminatory. Zuckerberg was also among the CEOs last year to oppose North Carolina’s HB2 law protecting privacy in the state’s restrooms and other similar facilities.
In September 2015 at a U.N. summit in New York, Zuckerberg expressed willingness to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to curtail speech on Facebook critical of “the wave of Syrian refugees entering Germany.”
While giving the Harvard commencement speech last month, Zuckerberg floated support for student loan debt relief, higher taxes for the wealthy, and “universal basic income.”
He has also stated that Internet access is a human right.