Longtime technology journalist David Kirkpatrick – author of the recently published book, The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World – caught an interview that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave CNBC last spring. What Zuckerberg said in that interview, Kirkpatrick wrote, was “among the most revealing things he has ever said about how he views his enterprise and company…. He has said similar things, though generally not as passionately, to me and to others on multiple occasions. He believes that he is operating Facebook in order to give his users a service that helps them live their lives differently, in a way he calls ‘more open and connected.’ He does not consider himself to be doing it to get rich. And keep in mind, he has control of three of five board seats, which means that what he thinks absolutely governs what happens at Facebook.”
In other words, helping people “live their lives differently” in a “more open and connected” way is the mission, and Facebook is a cause that only for practical reasons had to become a company, Zuckerberg indicates in the CNBC interview, which Kirkpatrick transcribed in full on his page. Causes are very different from companies, obviously. It’s interesting to think about what different people will extrapolate from that conceptual bottom line, depending on their points of view: young person, parent, privacy advocate, or policymaker in various countries and cultures. What I extrapolate is how important a new kind of media literacy is in a media environment in which 1) the biggest media player may see itself as a cause with such a mission and in which, 2) whether or not they subscribe to it, a significant and rapidly growing proportion of humanity are furthering that mission by using it to pursue their own passions, including their social lives.
What do I mean by new media literacy? Well the experts at NewMediaLiteracies.org describe it here, but I believe that basically it’s multidirectional, behavioral as well as consumable media literacy. Because media is social now, media literacy has to include critical thinking about what we upload, say, share, post, and produce as much as what we consume, see, hear, or download. Do you see, as I do, a growing overlap between media literacy and citizenship? In any case, I’m sure parents and educator are seeing how essential both are to young people’s wellbeing in social media.
* A post in the Facebook blog from CEO Mark Zuckerberg last May, at the time of last spring’s major privacy flap
* Here’s the first page of nearly 4,000 Google search results (only as of this writing) for “The Social Network” film Aaron Sorkin wrote Facebook being released this Friday.