John Naughton: Mark Zuckerberg should try living in the real world | John Naughton

The Facebook founder puts all his faith in an empowering ‘global community’ to cure all our ills. Dream on

On Thursday 16 February, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and supreme leader of Facebook, the world’s most populous virtual country (population 2bn) published an epistle to his 89m disciple-followers. “Building Global Community” was the headline. “On our journey to connect the world,” the supreme leader began, “we often discuss products we’re building and updates on our business. Today I want to focus on the most important question of all: are we building the world we all want?”

Good question. But wait a minute, who’s the “we” here? It crops up 156 times in the 5,700-word epistle. And it turns out that it means a lot of different things. Once in a while, it means us – you and me, the poor schmucks who are Facebook users. Sometimes, it’s the entire population of the known world – even those who are not yet Facebook users. Some of the time, it seems to mean the supreme leader and his employees who, it appears, are being called upon to shoulder the Herculean task of building a “global community”. But mostly the message is that the author of the screed presumes to speak for all of humanity. As the critic Nicholas Carr observes: “There is no opt-out to his ‘we’. It’s the default setting and, in Zuckerberg’s totalising utopian vision, the setting is hardwired, universal and non‑negotiable.”

Related: Facebook is hiring moderators. But is the job too gruesome to handle?

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