A New Community
After spending a decade portraying Facebook as a service for connecting friends and family, Zuckerberg’s grand vision is now to build technology that creates far bigger and more complex communities. “Humanity has always pushed to come together in greater numbers to accomplish better things and improve our lives individually in ways we couldn’t in smaller groups,” he tells me. If your News Feed now feels like a tiny town, Zuckerberg seems to want to build cities. Or at least churches.
In our conversation, he says his model for an online community might look something like Saddleback, the evangelical Southern California megachurch led by pastor Rick Warren. It’s a surprising example from a man who seems steeped in the liberal pluralism of Silicon Valley. But the key for Zuckerberg is that Warren built a community in which tens of thousands of people gather under a capable leader’s guidance, but also divide themselves into smaller groups by interest, affinity, and aspirations.
In Zuckerberg’s new vision for Facebook, leaders in the mold of Warren will have tools to guide and shape the more complex communities they’re trying to create. At the same time, the smaller groups within those communities will provide places to connect in more intimate ways, while also feeding the larger whole. “Just like becoming friends with people on Facebook can strengthen real-world relationships, there is no reason to believe that building communities on Facebook and the internet can’t also strengthen real-world communities,” he says.