On the morning of May 18. 2012, the day he took Facebook public, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that the social network's mission was not to be a public company. Facebook's mission, repeated relentlessly by company executives since then, was "to make the world more open and connected."
With 2.1 billion people using Facebook every month (plus 800 million on Instagram and 1.3 billion on WhatsApp), the company can safely declare that mission accomplished. In June, Zuckerberg revealed a new mission statement: "To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." No more openness, no more "making" the world do anything. Facebook is now all about empowerment, building community, and a world that feels "closer together."
The change is Facebook's way of reckoning with the fact that making the world more open and connected is not always a good thing. A recent survey from the American Psychological Association shows that people who say they are "constant checkers" of social media report more stress than other Americans. Meanwhile, as we learn more about the ways Russia used memes and fake news to create divisiveness, America's trust in Facebook is eroding.
This week Facebook shared how it plans to achieve its new mission of togetherness. The company will invest in technology and manpower to police its platform for "bad behavior." But removing Russian propaganda doesn't give people the power to build community. For that, Zuckerberg says, the solution is video. Facebook will compel the world to sing in harmony through the power of video.
"When done well, video brings us closer together," Zuckerberg explained on Facebook's third-quarter earnings call Wednesday. Facebook believes that "communities formed around video like TV shows or sports create a greater sense of belonging than many other kinds of communities."
The problem, Zuckerberg said, is that people consume video too passively on Facebook. But if they interact with friends and family while they consume video, "that's time well spent," he said. As a result, Facebook plans to "focus our products" on building community around video.