“My challenge for 2019 is to host a series of public discussions about the future of technology in society” – Mark Zuckerberg

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Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

On Tuesday, 8 January 2019, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a host of public forums on how technology can better serve society.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg says he will host a discussion every few weeks — some with tech leaders and experts, others with people from “our community” (presumably the Facebook community). He also said they’ll be available on his Facebook page, Instagram account, or other media.

The announcement follows a difficult period for the social media company, which has come under fire for its handling of private consumer data and its brass-knuckles approach to company critics, among other issues.
Zuckerberg, without directly acknowledging the criticism, said he recognized the need to get out of his comfort zone.

“I’m an engineer, and I used to just build out my ideas and hope they’d mostly speak for themselves,” he wrote.

“But given the importance of what we do, that doesn’t cut it anymore. So I’m going to put myself out there more than I’ve been comfortable with and engage more in some of these debates about the future, the tradeoffs we face, and where we want to go.”

Zuckerberg has made a practice of setting a personal goal each January, such as running 365 miles during the year or visiting all 50 states in the US.

But Zuckerberg’s statement on Tuesday suggested he recognised there was still work to do on the 2018 goal of “fixing” problems at Facebook, such as safeguarding the site from misinformation and propaganda that many experts believe affected the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit vote in Britain.

“Last year, I focused almost all my time on addressing important issues around elections, speech, privacy and well-being,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“Facebook is a different company now than it was a couple of years ago because of a much greater focus on these questions. These issues are complex and we will continue focusing on them for years to come,” he concluded.

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