Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been rethinking his position on the social media giant's role in shaping and connecting communities around the world.
In a nearly 6,000-word open letter on Facebook on Thursday, Zuckerberg presented a broad vision for how he believes Facebook can tackle issues of heightened isolationism, terrorism and fake news -- all of which have become increasingly difficult to manage across the site's 1.86 billion-user ecosystem.
The letter discusses many of the pitfalls that have surfaced as a result of Facebook trying to carry out its core mission of connecting people around the world. Zuckerberg noted that people are more connected than ever, but elements of "divisiveness and isolation" have challenged the potential for Facebook to create a positive impact on how we communicate.
"When we began this idea [of a global community] was not controversial," Zuckerberg explained. "Ever year, the world got more connected and this was seen as a positive trend."
"Yet now, across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection," he added.
Zuckerberg goes on to lay out what he believes are the central tenets to Facebook's future mission -- building supportive, safe, informed, civically-engaged and inclusive communities. He also addressed many of the criticisms Facebook has recently faced, including the prevalence of fake news and harmful content on the site, as well as its role in cases of possible terrorism, natural disasters and other issues.
The letter essentially addresses Facebook's social responsibility in the quickly-evolving social media and content distribution landscape, said digital marketing analyst Rebecca Lieb.
"It really did read like a manifesto or mission statement," Lieb said. "He came out with a vision for what Facebook's ideal future would be."
Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to utilize artificial intelligence technology as a means of monitoring, analyzing and potentially regulating the content that's being shared. Facebook has increasingly relied upon algorithms to manage content -- earlier this month, the company altered its news feed algorithms to feature what it called more "authentic and timely" news stories.
What's unclear, however, is whether Facebook will also be using algorithms and/or bots to sift through content shared by users. Zuckerberg noted that one potential use of artificial intelligence systems would be to help tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and legitimate terrorist propaganda.
Many of Zuckerberg's thoughts on Facebook's massive role in the world tackle the issue at the "30,000 foot level," rather than being more specific, said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.
"To the extent that Zuckerberg is talking about how to use Facebook as a force for good in the world, this is admirable at least to a point," Dawson wrote in a post on technarratives.com. "I'm also a little concerned that, although many of the problems Facebook creates stem from the service's massive and increasing power over our lives, the solutions he proposes mostly seem to be about increasing Facebook's power rather than finding ways to limit it."
In the process, Zuckerberg doesn't seem to fully appreciate the rapidly growing clout that platforms like Facebook and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google have in individuals' lives around the globe, Dawson added.
Lieb noted that Silicon Valley behemoths like Facebook, Google and Apple (AAPL) can make sweeping statements like this because they have much less to lose, unlike other commodity companies, such as Uber, which stands the risk of scaring off customers if they come out and take a broad stance on sociopolitical issues.
"When talking about Facebook or Google, people have fewer options," Lieb noted. "It would be very difficult to say I'm never going to use Facebook or Google again."
Although it took Zuckerberg several months to fully acknowledge the breadth of Facebook's role in shaping global communities -- beyond just fake news -- the letter shows that he is taking the matter seriously, Lieb said.
"This is the really big stake in the ground," Lieb said.