Mark Zuckerberg explains why he just changed Facebook's mission.
Facebook CEO is acknowledging that connecting people online isn't enough anymore.
"We used to have a sense that if we could just do those things, then that would make a lot of the things in the world better by themselves," Zuckerberg told CNN Tech. "But now we realize that we need to do more too. It's important to give people a voice, to get a diversity of opinions out there, but on top of that, you also need to do this work of building common ground so that way we can all move forward together."
The company even has a new mission statement: "To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."
This is the first time the company has changed its mission, which had previously been "to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected."
Zuckerberg believes he has just the tool for the job: Facebook Groups, which are now used by a billion people.
"A lot of what we can do is to help create a more civil and productive debate on some of the bigger issues as well," Zuckerberg told CNN Tech's Laurie Segall in Chicago on Wednesday night. It was his first in-depth interview for television since 2012.
Facebook debuted the new Groups features at the start of its first "Communities Summit" in Chicago. Three hundred Facebook Group administrators from across the country are attending the two-day event to hear speeches from Zuckerberg and other executives, and attend panels on topics like conflict resolution.
The administrators represent the variety of groups that have sprung up on Facebook, including Mormon mothers supporting their gay children, people suffering from rare diseases, and mental health support for veterinarians, who have a surprisingly high rate of suicide.
On Facebook: 'I think we're doing OK'
Facebook has more than 1.9 billion monthly users. It reported $8 billion in revenue last quarter, nearly all of which was from ads. Or, as Zuckerberg puts it, "I think we're doing OK."
But the company has struggled with a number of issues over the past year, including the proliferation of "fake news," live broadcasting of murders, and creating filter bubbles that have contributed to a divided nation. It's part of what pushed Zuckerberg to reexamine Facebook's mission, starting with a 5,726 word post on "Building Global Community" in February.
When Facebook launched Groups in 2010, it was a barebones tool for sharing updates with people you knew personally, like family members or a kid's softball team. Now there are groups for every interest imaginable, with a few members or hundreds of thousands of people. Anyone can start a group, and they can be public, closed but publicly listed, or hidden. An administrator can control who joins and police content.
The way Zuckerberg describes it, being active in Groups can be a political act, a grassroots way to address the ills of the world.
"A lot of the important stuff that needs to happen in the world [is] global ... whether that's addressing challenges like stopping climate change or stopping pandemic diseases or terrorism," said Zuckerberg. "None of these things can happen just by one country or group of people deciding to do it. There's no top-down structure to enable that, so the will needs to be built bottom up."
A Facebook Group may not be able to stop global warming, but a healthy fear of social media can have an impact on decision makers.
Only 100 million Facebook users are in what Zuckerberg calls "meaningful" groups - the kinds that become part of your support structure. He says creating these virtual communities is increasingly important as membership in real world organizations like unions, churches, and PTAs decline.