Earlier this year, as he set out to visit all fifty states, speculation swirled that Mark Zuckerberg might be considering a future run for president. Of course, that theory brings up an obvious question: Why would he want the demotion? He already runs a virtual nation with a population that’s headed towards the two billion mark. But like the physical country in which he resides, there is a growing divide in Zuckerberg’s online community about the role of globalization. “Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community. When we began, this idea was not controversial.” It is now. And the Internet that was designed to bring us all together may in fact be driving us further apart. As I’ve mentioned before, the open communication network we thought we were building turned into a hunting ground for trolls and spammers; unavoidable because of our ferocious addiction to our mobile screens. Social media evolved into a confirmation bias-riddled cesspool of lies, hate, and totally unrealistic versions of our lives; which would gradually amount to little more than weightless collections of Retweets and Likes. And somehow – with more tools to connect than ever before — we made our lives less diverse; racially, politically, and culturally; each of us left to sink in the quicksand that lines the thickening walls of our silos of homogeneity. So we’re left with a question. Can Zuck fix it?
Answer: of course not. But pause for a moment to think about what lies behind this. One way of viewing it is to find Zuckerberg’s naïveté touching. Aw, shucks, what a sweet guy. But a more sceptical way of viewing it would be to read his epistle as a proposition for Facebook becoming the Internet. In other words: the world wide Internet has become a nasty, unsafe place. But we can make Facebook a warm cosy place. So why not give up on the public Internet and come inside where it’s safe?