Is Facebook good for the world?

is facebook good for the world

By Mark Schaefer

The graphic at the top of this post popped up while I was on Facebook last week. I suppose this feeds into a new metric for Facebook, or perhaps it is an old metric that I have never seen before.

This question paralyzed me. Is Facebook good for the world? It seems so simple — just react and push a button — but I could not do it. I don’t know the answer.

On one hand, it’s easy to beat up Facebook. All the reasons are in the news.

But I also have tremendous empathy for the company.

Consider this: What Facebook is trying to accomplish has never been done before. There is no precedent. Many problems faced by Mark Zuckerberg have never been faced by another person in history. Many of the most controversial issues have no good solutions. It is the first company run under such complete public scrutiny. It is the first company trying to please nearly 2 billion customers.

So, I give them some grace. They have made so many mistakes. But … who wouldn’t?

And despite all the problems, I like having Facebook compared to not having Facebook. I’ve made many new friends and re-connected with some important old ones. I haven’t had a lot of drama that other people experienced on Facebook but I think that is largely a function of choice. We are responsible for our own experiences on social media. If you seek drama or tolerate drama, you’ll get it.

For me, Facebook is like a cup of coffee. It’s a nice, short break in my day. Based on direct personal experience, there is nothing to hate about my daily Facebook break.

Problem is, it’s a cup of coffee made by a dangerous company. I enjoy pausing for the coffee break but I dislike how the coffee gets there. I understand why many people hate the company so much. Facebook is arguably most dangerous company in the world, or at least they will be, as they need to find riskier and bolder ways to monetize our private lives and satisfy Wall Street.

Is Facebook good for the world? My answer.

I had to click something on that box because I wanted to get on with my day.

So I clicked … “Strongly disagree.”

I decided to click based on global realities instead of my own singular experience.

Facebook did not sway my decision to vote but it probably had an impact in many places around the world.

I do not think Facebook incites me to hate because I have blocked anybody who might have that sort of tendency. But, it certainly happens.

I have never been bullied on Facebook, but my heart has never healed from the story of a young student at Rutgers University (my employer) who killed himself directly because of Facebook bullying.

I try to connect to a global community but most people don’t. In fact, studies show that Facebook reinforces tribalism and polarization.

Facebook is a cup of coffee that is slowly poisoning the world.

But then …

After I clicked my choice, I had the opportunity to leave a comment. I realize that commenting to Facebook has the same chance of making an impact as throwing a message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean.

But, you never know.

Maybe my comment will become the comment of all comments. Maybe my comment will be made into a poster and hung in the Facebook cafeteria to encourage every employee to do better and reach higher.

This is it:

I want to love Facebook. But you have to put the world first.

Isn’t that direction a lot better than Facebook’s current cultural motto of “move fast and break things” ?

Facebook’s fatal flaw is that it never does the right thing until it is caught doing the wrong thing. It tries to position itself as a benevolent hub of friendship but it is really a creepy teenage hacker trying to see what they can get away with.

Ultimately for Facebook to succeed, the culture of the company must be radically transformed to an authentically kind presence that makes every single decision through the filter of “does this put the world first?”

Please Mr. Zuckerberg, make that into a poster.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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