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Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?

🔒 nymag.com

This is one of the most interesting and thought provoking articles I’ve read about Facebook. This overview of the current size of the Facebook community is amazing.

What is Facebook? We can talk about its scale: Population-wise, it’s larger than any single country; in fact, it’s bigger than any continent besides Asia. At 2 billion members, monthly active Facebook users” is the single largest non-biologically sorted group of people on the planet after Christians” — and, growing consistently at around 17 percent year after year, it could surpass that group before the end of 2017 and encompass one-third of the world’s population by this time next year. Outside China, where Facebook has been banned since 2009, one in every five minutes on the internet is spent on Facebook; in countries with only recently high rates of internet connectivity, like Myanmar and Kenya, Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, the whole internet.

The point of this article is that Facebook has become something that we have never seen before. Something that we really don’t understand. The authors assertion is that Zuckerberg himself and Facebook as a whole doesn’t understand what it is.

But if Facebook is bigger, newer, and weirder than a mere company, surely his trip is bigger, newer, and weirder than a mere presidential run. Maybe he’s doing research and development, reverse-­engineering social bonds to understand how Facebook might better facilitate them. Maybe Facebook is a church and Zuckerberg is offering his benedictions. Maybe Facebook is a state within a state and Zuckerberg is inspecting its boundaries. Maybe Facebook is an emerging political community and Zuckerberg is cultivating his constituents. Maybe Facebook is a surveillance state and Zuckerberg a dictator undertaking a propaganda tour. Maybe Facebook is a dual power — a network overlaid across the U.S., parallel to and in competition with the government to fulfill civic functions — and Zuckerberg is securing his command. Maybe Facebook is border control between the analog and the digital and Zuckerberg is inspecting one side for holes. Maybe Facebook is a fleet of alien spaceships that have colonized the globe and Zuckerberg is the viceroy trying to win over his new subjects.

This quote stood out to me. I tend to think a lot of social media is just for social media anyway.

Facebook is good because it creates community; community is good because it enables Facebook. The values of Facebook are Facebook.

This is a long article but it’s definitely worth a read.

Posted on October 3, 2017

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