Facebook has been making headlines about the spreading of fake news and various other content moderation issues such as censorship and violence. It has certainly been a challenge. Also making social media headlines is Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook note entitled “Building Global Community”…
In this long but interesting read he outlines the major questions Facebook needs to ask to continue build a more inclusive and global community. This of course balanced with issues of political views and content moderation issues like censorship and violence.
As I started to read these main “asks” light bulbs started to go off. I started to think… “This sounds like a job for social work!”. Mark (or should I call him Mr. Zuckerberg?) talks about how Facebook is grappling with the following questions…
How do we help people build supportive communities that strengthen traditional institutions in a world where membership in these institutions is declining?
How do we help people build a safe community that prevents harm, helps during crises and rebuilds afterwards in a world where anyone across the world can affect us?
How do we help people build an informed community that exposes us to new ideas and builds common understanding in a world where every person has a voice?
How do we help people build a civically-engaged community in a world where participation in voting sometimes includes less than half our population?
How do we help people build an inclusive community that reflects our collective values and common humanity from local to global levels, spanning cultures, nations and regions in a world with few examples of global communities?
Often times I run into issues and think, how can the social work profession contribute to this? This often leads me to the National Association of Social Workers Core Values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.
An interesting thing happened though. Not only how can we apply these to the Facebook community “asks” but also how can this Facebook community questions apply to the social work values. As I read it became an interesting parallel process.
How does our “service” contribute to “civically engaged communities”? Also what does it mean to provide service that is “civically engaged” ? How does dignity and worth translate to more “supportive and inclusive communities”? What actions are we really taking to develop supportive and inclusive communities? How can we use our knowledge of competence to create more “Well informed communities”? What does it mean to be a competent professional on social media?
It’s interesting how a open letter from the CEO Facebook can create such synergy with social work values. It gives new meaning to the value social work can provide to social media. I often feel like social workers have a a responsibility to connect with other social workers online. This made me think more deeply about the opportunity that Facebook and other social media provides to social work. We can not only connect with our local community but also a national and global community too. There is this interesting parallel process to the work we are doing “in real life” and the community building happening on social media.
Facebook is grappling with serious questions. They have developed some interesting solutions to these questions but a lot of answers remain. My argument is as social media continues to progress to a global community, social work can be huge part of the solution. These are “In Real Life” challenges that social work faces every single day. The problem is now they are online. It’s time to get our thinking caps on help Mr. Zuckerberg to help build his global community.