Zuckerberg’s 2018 resolution is more professional than personal: Make Facebook great again

Many people like the New Year because it signals a clean slate – a time to rejuvenate and start afresh. Then there’s those who look forward to Mark Zuckerberg’s grandiose and always faintly amusing New Year’s resolutions.

Zuckerberg’s 2018 resolution is more professional than personal: Make Facebook great again

Thus far he’s built a personal AI assistant for his house (2016), learned Mandarin (2014) and travelled to all 50 US states to engage with the common man (2017) – albeit not in a pre-presidential PR stunt. Oh and lest we forget the time he read, er, 25 books in a year – (less than) a formidable one book a fortnight. Shout out to 2015 for that last gem.

In a lot of respects, it’s been a commendable, if slightly excessive, journey of self-improvement. But Zuckerberg is bucking that trend in 2018 with the news that his resolution is to fix the prevailing ills that have transpired on the social media giant. The professional has superseded the personal on the Zuck’s journey, and it’s about time too.

The past couple of years have seen Facebook succumb to a series of challenges, from fake news to Russian interference in the 2016 US election. The site was where we once congregated to view mirthful holiday snaps of our mates around a fishbowl cocktail in some hot, economically precarious European country. But increasingly, the site has fallen victim to misuse, with applications as insidious as they are sinister.

Zuckerberg took to his platform to announce his intentions to improve the site in areas affected by ailments and shortcomings. In a lengthy post, he diagnosed the world’s conflicted state: “The world feels anxious and divided,” he asserted, “and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

The means by which Zuckerberg aims to rectify the site’s ills are twofold – better enforcement of policies and prevention of misuse. “If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory,” he said. The social media entrepreneur attempted to bridge the gap between the personal and the ostensibly professional by arguing, “I think I’ll learn more by focusing intensely on these issues than I would by doing something completely separate.”

The undertaking means more than just toying with the site’s code, extending to the interdisciplinary ethos that governs Facebook. “These issues touch on questions of history, civics, political philosophy, media, government, and of course technology. I’m looking forward to bringing groups of experts together to discuss and help work through these topics,” explained the 33-year-old.

A particularly interesting subset highlighted was the issue of centralisation in social media, with the latter a medium which gained traction, he argues, because of its capacity to ensure quite the opposite. “A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralising force that puts more power in people’s hands,” he said. Zuckerberg will endeavour to mull over this dilemma, and formulate a considered response to such questions of identity and power.

It’s certainly a noble – not to mention much-needed – vow, particularly given the site’s tumultuous past couple of years. And if nothing else, the Zuck’s New Year’s resolutions have come a long way since 2009, when he vowed the monumental undertaking of wearing a tie everyday of the year. Yeah, you and every 24-year-old looking to put food on the table…

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