by Jana Shaw
In the current political climate we are seeing fear and division combated by communities joining together and pushing for change. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg preached the importance of this new sense of community during a visit to Greensboro this week.
Zuckerberg visited North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University on Monday as part of the first installation of a new program series entitled the Chancellor’s Town Hall.
The event was a question and answer styled conversation between Zuckerberg and A&T students. Zuckerberg’s conversation focused on social justice, community and diversity.
The open discussion was filled with serious topics as well as light-hearted jokes and laughter. Zuckerberg praised A&T’s “brass band” and even gave students an “Aggie Pride.”
Students posed a variety of questions to Zuckerberg but his answers were always dipped in the subject of community.
One of the first questions was given by an A&T computer science student from Atlanta. His question focused on whether Facebook had plans to help “eradicate ‘fake news’”
“Misinformation is a big issue and we have a responsibility to help fight against it,” said Zuckerberg, “We’re doing this by fighting against hoaxes the same way we would fight against spam, enabling people to flag stuff that may be incorrect so third party fact checkers can validate it.”
Zuckerberg said that Facebook is against “fake news” despite negative accusations. Though he is against misinformation he wanted to draw a line between “fake news” and a differing in opinion.
“An important part of democracy is people being able to share things that other people disagree with,” said Zuckerberg, “We want to make sure that we don’t get to a point that we’re banning things from the site because they hurt people’s feelings…that would hurt a lot of progress.”
One of the questions posed was from an A&T computer science and electrical engineering student. The question expressed interest in Zuckerberg’s travel – why he’s doing it and what he has learned.
His answer expressed a desire to stem “the rising tide of voices against the world coming together.”
Zuckerberg has been seeking to understand the challenges and connections that exist around the world to create a global community.
“The only way to make sure that you’re building a strong global community is to make sure that it works for everyone,” said Zuckerberg, “I believe that that can happen.”
“If you look at the arc of human history it is the story of how people have figured out how to come together in greater numbers to solve problems,” Zuckerberg said. “In order to do that we have to understand the challenges each community has…I’ve been traveling to understand these challenges.”
A journalism student asked about Zuckerberg’s thoughts on “Facebook Live being used to broadcast interaction between citizens and police officers.”
“I feel great,” Zuckerberg responded. “If we aren’t going to give them body cameras we’ll give everyone a live camera…transparency is what Facebook is about.”
Though Zuckerberg is proud of the site being used to highlight injustice he feels there are major issues with live video.
“There’s also unique challenges,” Zuckerberg said. “For example, there are also people who use Live to broadcast bad things that they’re doing.” He admitted to not “feeling good about” people committing crimes on the Facebook Live feature.
“There was a girl a few weeks ago, who live streamed committing suicide. That’s terrible,” Zuckerberg said. He talked about the reflection that occurred after that stream, as his team decided to make sure “people have tools to flag so that people can get help” as well as making sure these negative moments do not go viral.
An early college student questioned how Facebook played a role in elections.
“Not enough people vote,” said Zuckerberg “It’s a crazy thing to have that vote and the freedom and not take it.”
“A lot of policy and things that affect us happen in local and state government,” Zuckerberg continued.
“Two of the big opportunities that we will work on are making sure that social media help people connect with officials not only around elections but staying engaged in civic issues.”
There is an alert that allows you to see each of your local and state officials. The alert then gives you the opportunity to follow each of the officials¬—which has doubled the connectivity between community and officials.
“I encourage everyone to stay focused on not only the big-ticket elections but local ones as well,” said Zuckerberg.
A journalism student and former Facebook intern asked about any possible political aspirations he might have.
Zuckerberg made it clear that his traveling is not in effort to run for any political office.
“I think each person should do the things that they’re best suited to do. Facebook is the biggest responsibility for change that I have as well as philanthropy,” Zuckerberg said.