CEO Zuckerberg tweaks Facebook mission to focus on groups

"To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together", will be the new defining principle of the company, now valued at $US440 billion ($583 billion).

"If we do this, it will not only reverse the whole decline in community membership we've seen for the last decade, it's going to strengthen our overall social fabric and bring the world closer together", Zuckerberg said during the speech.

"We have to build a world where every single person has a sense of goal and community", the Facebook co-founder wrote. And if enough of us work to build community and bring people together, then we just might change the world.

Zuckerberg said that one way Facebook hopes to accomplish this is through building what he calls "meaningful communities", which are "groups that upon joining, quickly become the most important part of your social network experience and an important part of your real world support structure".

Zuckerberg thinks part of the answer lies in facilitating deeper ties between users on Facebook, who may not have started out as part of the same families or friend groups. It has also highlighted the idea of productive and tradition groups and has also started an addiction support group to help people deal with drug and alcohol addiction. Facebook will apply the same powerful computer algorithms that made its service irresistible to so many people to the task of nudging users toward groups they'll find equally appealing.

Using its own artificial intelligence, the company increased the number of users finding meaningful communities by 50% over a sixth-month period. He wants to turn Facebook into a place where users form popular groups and hang out together, a lot.

Even as it charges ahead with a shiny new mission to connect the world, Facebook will still have to deal with the darker side of humanity. They're created by the friends we choose to have, the people we decide to mute, and the stories we click. It's the company's first gathering for the people who run millions of groups on Facebook, a feature the company rolled out years ago to little fanfare. The power users featured in this first "Community Summit" do not make advertising money from their dogged efforts to build community on Facebook.

The CEO, not known for public outreach, announced a 50-state USA tour in January to "get out and talk to more people about how they're living, working and thinking about the future".

While it may be easy to dismiss such a daring vision, Facebook's almost two billion monthly active users - not including users of its other social networks - give credibility to the company's audaciousness.

Facebook's mission will change to focus on the activity level of its users.

Zuckerberg, however, stresses the emotional and cultural aspects of groups.

For Sarah Giberman, an artist and parent who lives in Arlington, Texas, a meaningful group is one "that serves a need in your life, that fills some space that would otherwise feel vacant".

It was the controversial U.S. election previous year which pointed at a possibility that Facebook might have influenced the election result to great extent.

  • Carolyn Briggs