Industries in Depth

Mark Zuckerberg says the world is much more divided than he ever expected

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asks a question during the II CEO Summit of the Americas on the sidelines of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City April 10, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Mark Zuckerberg expresses his fears over the misinformation spread on Facebook. Image: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Jeremy Berke
Reporter, Business Insider
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Amid a growing backlash over how big tech companies are impacting society, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the world is more divided than he ever anticipated.

"We've been focused on making the world more open and connected," Zuckerberg said on a recent episode of the 'Freakonomics Radio' podcast. "And I always thought that that would be enough to solve a lot of problems by itself."

Zuckerberg told the show's host, Stephen Dubner, that "the world is today more divided than I would have expected for the level of openness and connection that we have today."

Facebook has come under fire from people in and outside of the tech world due to issues of tech addiction and the platform's role in spreading misinformation during the contentious 2016 election. Since then, the social network has instituted a series of changes to its news feed that have actually reduced the total time users spend on the site by up to 50 million hours per day.

Zuckerberg told Dubner that Facebook, in his view, has a responsibility to work on connecting people across ideological divides. He said that while he believes most people mean to do well by each other, "confronting truths or perspectives that don't fit with ours" can cause people to lash out.

In Zuckerberg's view, social networks like Facebook should provide a productive starting point for discussion by helping people bond over things they have in common.

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There are " lots of different issues and things that help bind people together," Zuckerberg said, including a well-functioning economy and the jobs it provides. To help boost economic opportunity around the world, he said, Facebook is working to spread the internet — and the opportunity for new jobs and connections it brings — to underserved communities. Of course, that would also lead to more new Facebook users.

The interview is part of a six-part series called the 'Secret Life of CEOs' on 'Freakonomics Radio.'

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