Bringing the World Closer Together – Mark Zuckerberg’s Speech At Facebook Community Summit
Hey everyone! Thanks for coming out to our first ever Facebook Community Summit! It’s great to be here in Chicago where there’s so much great work building community.
Before we get started, I want to introduce myself. I’m Mark, and I’m a member of the Zuckerberg family group. I’m also a member of Max’s Circle, which is like our family group except we all just share cute photos of my daughter doing ridiculous things.
I’m a member of five groups for people who like the same kind of dog. That’s my dog. His name is Beast. He’s a Puli. He’s basically a walking mop, except he makes things dirtier, not cleaner. And it turns out there are thousands of dogs just like him.
Not that many people know this, but I’m also an admin of a group for people who love the game Civilization. I have to screen a bunch of requests from people who don’t actually play the game, so I know what you all go through.
Some communities are more serious. We created a group to support my dad, who is recovering from heart surgery. Dad, if you’re watching this, we’re all sending you love and praying for a quick recovery. I’ll see you when I’m back home in a few days.
All of you with us today have built some of the strongest communities on Facebook. You’ve built communities for new moms and dads, for helping kids get into college.
One of the leaders here today, Derek Hooker, runs a group of locksmiths. Derek, where are you? Being a locksmith can be lonely, so your group gives them a sense of community. And when your members heard we were hosting a community summit, dozens of them wrote us saying we had to invite you. I’m glad you’re here with us.
As I’ve sat down with some of you, I keep hearing the same themes.
You’ve all been thrust into unexpected leadership positions. You started a group you care about, and now thousands of people depend on you to keep that community strong.
I can relate to this. I started Facebook to connect my college. I always thought one day someone would connect the whole world, but I never thought it would be us. I would have settled for connecting my whole dorm. We were just college kids. But we cared so much about this idea — that all people want to connect. So we just kept pushing forward, day by day, just like you.
Another thing that impressed me is you’re not running these groups because it’s going to look good on your resume. You’re doing it because you care about bringing people together.
A few weeks ago I met Lola Omolola. Where are you, Lola? Lola lives in Chicago and is originally from Nigeria. Two years ago, Lola founded a secret group called Female IN. She describes it as a “no-judgement support group” to give women a safe place to talk about everything from marriage to health issues to work problems. Today it has more than a million members around the world — all women — because one woman cared about giving them a voice.
You see, we’re all here trying to do the most good for our communities with what we’ve been given. We know how lucky we are and how much we owe it to our communities to give back.
And today I want to share with you that we’re close to a milestone for our community. This morning I was talking to the woman in charge of growing our community, Naomi Gleit — she’ll be here with us tomorrow. And talking about stories of leadership, Naomi joined us more than 10 years ago right out of college and has worked her way up to leading this big part of Facebook. This morning we’re talking and she says: “Mark, we’re getting close to our community reaching 2 billion people.” Can you believe that? It’s a great milestone, but it also means we now have an even greater responsibility.
Every day, I say to myself, I don’t have much time here on Earth, how can I make the greatest positive impact?
I know a lot of you ask yourselves the same question. It’s not always an easy question to answer. Some days I wake up and I just want to be with my daughter and teach her about the world. Some nights I go to bed and I’m not sure I made the right choices that day. I can tell you, those doubts don’t go away, no matter who you are. But every day you just get up and try to make the world a little better.
Right now, I think the most important thing we can do is bring people closer together. It’s so important that we’re going to change Facebook’s whole mission to take this on.
For the past decade, we’ve focused on making the world more open and connected. We’re not done with that. But I used to think that if we just gave people a voice and helped them connect, that would make the world better by itself. In many ways it has. But our society is still divided. Now I believe we have a responsibility to do even more. It’s not enough to simply connect the world, we must also work to bring the world closer together.
We need to give people a voice to get a diversity of opinions out there, but we also need to build enough common ground so we can all make progress together. We need to stay connected with people we already know and care about, but we also need to meet new people with new perspectives. We need support from family and friends, but we also need to build communities to support us as well.
For the past 10 years, our mission has been to make the world more open and connected. We will always work to give people a voice and help us stay connected, but now we will do even more. Today, we’re expanding our mission to set our course for the next 10 years.
The idea for our new mission is: “bring the world closer together”.
Our full mission statement is: give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. That reflects that we can’t do this ourselves, but only by empowering people to build communities and bring people together.
Our lives are all connected. In the next generation, our greatest opportunities and challenges we can only take on together — ending poverty, curing disease, stopping climate change, spreading freedom and tolerance, stopping terrorism. No single group or even country can do that alone. We have to build a world where people come together to take on these big meaningful efforts.
This isn’t going to happen top down. There’s no one in the world who can snap their fingers and make this happen. People have to want it. Change starts local, when enough of us feel a sense of purpose and support in our own lives that we can start caring about broader issues too.
I always believed people are basically good. As I’ve traveled around, I’ve met all kinds of people from regular folks to heads of state, and I’ve found they almost all genuinely care about helping people.
But I’ve also found we all need to feel supported. We don’t want to feel afraid. But when we don’t feel good about lives here at home, it’s hard to care about people in other places.
Communities give us that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are not alone, that we have something better ahead to work for.
We all get meaning from our communities. Whether they’re churches, sports teams, or neighborhood groups, they give us the strength to expand our horizons and care about broader issues. Studies have proven the more connected we are, the happier we feel and the healthier we are. People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity — not just because they’re religious, but because they’re part of a community.
That’s why it’s so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That’s a lot of of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.
This is our challenge. We have to build a world where everyone has a sense of purpose and community. That’s how we’ll bring the world closer together. We have to build a world where we care about a person in India or China or Nigeria or Mexico as much as a person here. That’s how we’ll achieve our greatest opportunities and build the world we want for generations to come.
I know we can do this. We can reverse this decline, rebuild our communities, start new ones, and bring the whole world closer together.
So how are we going to do this?
Today we’re going to talk about two parts of our product roadmap focused on building “Meaningful Communities”.
Most of us are part of a lot of groups in the physical world and online. The average person on Facebook is a member of about 30 groups, but if you’re lucky you may have one or two that are really important to you.
The rest are casual groups like the Puli ones I’m in where I get some cute puppy photos. And those are important too, but they’re not exactly part of my social support structure.
We found more than 100 million people are members of what they call “meaningful communities”. These are groups that upon joining, quickly become the most important part of your social network experience and an important part of your real world support structure.
If you’re diagnosed with a rare disease, you can join a group and connect with people with that condition all around the world so you’re not alone. If you’re a new parent, you can join a group and get support from other new mothers and fathers. These communities don’t just interact online. They hold get-togethers, organize dinners, and support each other in their daily lives.
Online communities strengthen physical communities by helping people come together online as well as offline, even across great distances.
So I started asking the question: if 2 billion people use Facebook, then how come we’ve only helped 100 million of them join meaningful communities?
Well, it turns out most people don’t seek out communities in the physical world or online. Either your friends invite you or on Facebook we suggest them for you. So we started a project to see if we could get better at suggesting groups that will be meaningful to you. We started building artificial intelligence to do this. And it works! In the first 6 months, we helped 50% more people join meaningful communities. And there’s a lot more to do here.
So now we’re setting a goal — to help one billion people join meaningful communities. If we can do this, it will not only turn around the whole decline in community membership we’ve seen for decades, it will start to strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together.
But AI can only get us so far because in order to suggest meaningful communities, there have to be communities for you to join in the first place. And that’s why you, the community leaders, are so important to this mission.
As I’ve traveled around and learned about different places, one theme is clear: every great community has great leaders.
Think about it. A church doesn’t just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter. A little league team has a coach who motivates the kids and helps them hit better. Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us.
Every one of you does this for your communities. That’s why your groups mean so much to your members.
One of the most impressive communities I’ve seen is the military. On one of my visits, they shared a leadership principle I’ll never forget. They call it 100% ownership. If they have 5 people on a team, each person isn’t just responsible for one-fifth of the problem. Every person is responsible for 100% of the mission.
I’ve tried to bring this to Facebook. We have a saying: “nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem”. If you see something wrong, you go fix it.
You all embody this spirit for your communities. You’ve said nothing is someone else’s problem when it comes to looking out for your members.
Laurie McMonigle is here. Where are you, Laurie? Laurie runs a group for disabled veterans that fills gaps our government misses. One veteran who was about to have his electricity shut off posted in the group asking for help and members came together to help him pay his bills.
Pamela Radisek is here too. Where are you, Pamela? Pamela runs a group called “I Am Adopted.” Your group helps adopted children find their birth parents, and the group members have helped reunite a number of families.
Great communities have great leaders. If we want the world to be filled with communities like the ones you’re all building, we need to give more leaders the power to build communities like you.
Historically, that’s not how we’ve set up groups on Facebook. Groups have been pretty flat where everyone is a peer — and that makes sense when you’re talking about a family group that doesn’t really have a leader. But it doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to run a group with thousands of people.
Matt Prestbury is here. Where are you, Matt? Matt runs a group for black fathers out of Baltimore. Matt, you told me you spend a couple hours a day starting discussions and approving or denying every post and membership request himself — on top of your regular job as a preschool teacher.
One of you told me your husband often comes home from work and can tell you’ve been working on the couch in the living room since the morning — which I can relate to, by the way.
All of you make sacrifices for your communities because you believe in what you’re doing. And I want you to know we believe in what you’re doing too.
So today we’re going to start rolling out new tools to make it easier for you to build communities. There’s a clear roadmap here, like what we’ve done with Page and Events admins.
First, we’re going to give you new tools that offer insights into who your members are and how they’re engaging — insights into things like join requests and the time of day your members are most active.
So if you run a group for new moms, maybe that’s 1am, and 3am, and 5am. We’re about to have another daughter so I’m going to have to get back on that schedule.
And of course we have new tools for managing new member requests. You’re going to be able to sort and filter requests by location and gender, and group them together so you can accept or decline them all at once. That’s going to save you a lot of time!
And we’re going to help you remove bad actors and their content quickly to keep a positive and safe environment. This is really important.
In the next couple of days, you’re going to hear more about our roadmap and our research on what makes meaningful communities. Because if we’re going to bring the world closer together, we need to support people like you who are already doing it. And we need to give that power to more people too.
When you bring people together, you never know where it will lead.
Remember when I told you about Lola’s women’s support group that now has 1 million members around the world?
When I sat down with Lola, she told me for some girls growing up in Nigeria, if you talk out of turn, your mom will pinch you and tell you to be quiet. You start to feel like there’s something wrong with you if you speak up.
Now her community is helping break this culture of silence — and it’s having unexpected consequences on issues like domestic violence.
Lola told me that, for some Nigerian women like her, this silence results in them enduring abuse. But now, when someone posts about it in the group, they get thousands of messages of support, offers of places to stay and childcare within minutes.
Lola didn’t start out trying to change the culture of domestic violence around the world. She just wanted to give women a place to talk safely about what mattered to them.
That’s the power of the communities you’re building. You may think you’re just creating a space for new moms, or bird watchers, or locksmiths. But when you give people a way to connect and a sense of support, it can lead to important changes.
We all have the power to be leaders. And if enough of us work to build community and bring people closer together, we just might change the world.
Thank you for coming out today. Thank you so much for all you do for your communities and for the world. It’s an honor to be on this mission with you, and I’m looking forward to doing this together.