It was just a few years ago that Facebook and other social networks were lauded for all of the good that they do — or can do — for society, but how the tides have turned.
In a recent episode of the podcast Freakonomics Radio, “It’s Your Problem Now” , which interviews CEOs about their role in taking responsibility for company crises, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admits that “making the world more open and connected” was not “enough to solve a lot of [the world’s] problems by itself.”
In the conversation with host Steven Dubner, he continues, “The world is today more divided than I would have expected for the level of openness and connection that we have.”
It’s kind of an admission of error for a man not really known for admissions of error. In the 2017 Q4 earnings call in late January, for example, Zuckerberg had touted, for the first time, how Facebook users were spending less time on the site — 50 million hours less.
“By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term.” This was a perfect example of how, he could spin a new plan of action, rather than coming out and saying what Facebook had done wrong to precipitate that change.
This decrease in time spent on site a far cry from standard metrics of success for social networks, which tend to use the amount of time that users spend on-site, not off, as a metric of success. This comes alongside a new shift on Facebook to highlight updates of users’ friend and family, rather than news and politics.
The interviews are part of a six-part series called the ‘Secret Life of CEOs,” and also include conversations with Ellen Pao of Reddit, Richard Branson of Virgin, and Satya Nadella (who succeeded Ballmer at Microsoft).