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Facebook’s New Mission Is To Build ‘Meaningful’ Communities

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Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to fake news? Make Communities Great Again.

Mark Zuckerberg has spent most of 2017 touring every state in the United States to learn how people experience Facebook in various parts of the country. In part inspired by the stories he’s heard along the way, he is unveiling a new mission statement for the world’s largest social network: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

The revised mission is a deliberate push back against criticisms that Facebook has turned into a breeding ground for “fake news” and bubbled perspectives in which algorithms limit people’s exposure to opposing viewpoints. In addition to making product updates to quell the spread of misinformation, Facebook’s new mission statement reflects a proactive approach to using the platform for good—that is, by helping bridge connections and facilitate the creation of “meaningful” communities around shared interests and causes.

It’s an optimistic endeavor and one that will not be without challenges. At its first Communities Event, held in Chicago, Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of Group admins, who should see themselves as watchdogs against hate speech and other toxic behaviors. To that end, he unveiled a suite of Group admin tools designed to streamline some of these important, albeit, tedious responsibilities. These tools include:

  • Insights: A data dashboard to allow admins to see group growth, engagement and membership stats in real-time. Membership request filtering: we also hear from admins that admitting new members is one of the most time-consuming things they do. So, we added a way for them to sort and filter membership requests on common categories like gender and location, and then accept or decline all at once.
  • Content clean-up: If a member has been removed from the group, admins can erase all of the content they’ve shared (posts and comments) in one fell swoop. There is also a streamlined membership requests process, allow admins to bulk approve or disapprove requests.
  • Post scheduling: Admins and moderators can schedule posts for specific windows, similar to how Page admins can.
  • Group-linking: Getting to the core of what Facebook’s new mission is trying to accomplish, they are also testing group-to-group linking, which will expose group members to related groups and members.

Outside of the implications of the updated mission on the platform overall, there are also considerations for marketers. With the update, Facebook is encouraging brands to create their own Groups and communities around the core values of their products. For example, a brand might create a Group to build a community around a particular CSR initiative or relevant interest area. In many ways, this gets back to how brands first started using Facebook in the first place. One of the first brands to achieve breakout success on Facebook was Coca-Cola, and that page was founded by two of the brand’s super-fans.

By leaning into groups, Facebook is banking on the willingness of its users to shift their behavior on the platform from sharing within their own networks to connecting with people outside of their friends and family members. The recent popularity of Groups like Pansuit Nation prove that people are willing to form these connections in certain cases; however, there must be a clearly-articulated hook for doing so, as well as active administrators keeping the community both safe and active. For marketers, the key will be creating Groups that stand for something bigger than their products or services.

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