Mark Zuckerberg’s Personal 2018 Challenge: Making Facebook Hospitable Again

Weeding out “abuse and hate” on the social network is paramount, Facebook head honcho says

Last Updated: January 4, 2018 @ 10:26 AM

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday his personal challenge for 2018 is to make your experience on the social network a lot less hate filled.

The 33-year-old exec took to his personal FB page and said his sights are set this year on fixing “important issues” that put the tech giant under the microscope last year. (He sets a personal challenge every year.)

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do,” wrote Zuckerberg. “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.”

Zuckerberg added the company “won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse,” but that the company currently makes “too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools.”

2017 was rough for Facebook. While the company enjoyed a banner year on Wall Street, with shares of FB stock climbing more than 50 percent, it struggled to grapple with the fallout from the 2016 U.S. election, when Russian trolls leveraged the social network to post fake stories and spread disinformation. After months of downplaying the scope of the issue, Facebook said more than 10 million Americans were hit by the bogus ads.

Zuckerberg’s 2018 personal challenge echoed comments he made last November. “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing profits,” said Zuckerberg. “I am dead serious about this.”

Facebook ran into other issues as well; its advertising business was criticized for allowing anti-semitic ads to go live, and former company VP Chamath Palihapitiya criticized social media giants like FB for “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

This has become an increasingly common critique of Facebook — and one Zuckerberg appeared to acknowledge by saying he wants time on the site to be “well spent.”  Tristan Harris, an ex-Google employee that promotes “ethical” technology, has argued Facebook isn’t designed to promote healthy social interactions.

“Let’s ask: Why is Facebook promoting a comment box and Like button in the first place?,” Harris said in a Wired interview last July. “Were the designers thinking about what’s the best way for humankind to have conversations about controversial topics? No. They don’t get to ask that question. The only question they get to ask is, ‘What will get people to engage the most on the platform?'”

In past years, Zuckerberg has made his yearly goal to read more books or learn Mandarin. He compared 2018 to 2009, a year where Facebook needed to develop a path to profitability — and he wore a tie every day to remind him it was a “serious year.” Zuckerberg finished his post acknowledging the concentration of power in a select few big tech companies, and said he was interested in learning about “counter-trends” like encryption and cryptocurrency. You can read the full post from Zuckerberg below.