Mark Zuckerberg says he wants Facebook users to start playing a similar role to pastors in churches.
He recently announced a new mission for the social network, which is set to focus on growing groups and communities to “bring the world closer together”.
He believes the site can be used to unite what he sees as a “divided” society, and make users feel like they are “part of something bigger”.
Facebook has been using artificial intelligence to recommend groups to users, and Mr Zuckerberg says the approach led to a 50 per cent increase in people joining them, within six months.
However, while the site has almost two billion users, Mr Zuckerberg says “only” 100 million of them are currently part of “meaningful communities”. He wants that figure to rise to a billion.
“If we can do this, it will not only turn around the whole decline in community membership we've seen for decades, it will start to strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together,” he said.
“As I've travelled around and learned about different places, one theme is clear: every great community has great leaders. Think about it. A church doesn't just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter.”
He added, “Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us.”
He singled out a number of administrators for praise, including the leader of a support group for women and the leader of a locksmith group.
“Communities give us that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are not alone, that we have something better ahead to work for,” he said.
“We all get meaning from our communities. Whether they're churches, sports teams, or neighbourhood groups, they give us the strength to expand our horizons and care about broader issues. Studies have proven the more connected we are, the happier we feel and the healthier we are.
“People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity -- not just because they're religious, but because they're part of a community.
“That's why it's so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That's a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.”
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