Facebook wants to help you find more friends. In particular, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wants the social media platform to start suggesting new friends you don’t know yet but who could be just the people you need to be adding to your life. They could be potential new mentors who can help you reach your next goal. Or they could be a support network or source of inspiration you’re missing from your life right now.
Zuckerberg was inspired to create such network-building functionality while out on his travels across the country. It’s part of his 2017 goal of meeting more people from places he’s never spent much time in.
Between visits to farms and lunches at the local hotdog joint, Zuckerberg said the most eye-opening realization he’s come to is just how important our social relationships are in shaping our lives:
“My biggest takeaway so far is that our relationships shape us more than we think — how we consider opportunities, how we process information, and how we form habits. There is a lot of discussion about inequality, but one under-looked dimension of inequality is in the makeup of our social networks.”
Zuckerberg argues our social relationships are even stronger than information alone. For instance, a recovering drug addict will likely know the consequences of relapsing. But simply knowing that information isn’t as helpful as surrounding oneself with a support network to talk to and get advice from throughout the journey.
“In many ways, relationships are the most important things in our lives — whether we’re trying to form healthy habits, stay out of trouble, or find better opportunities,” Zuckerberg continued. “And yet, research shows the average American has fewer than three close friends we can turn to for support.”
We still don’t have the specifics on how this new friend-suggesting feature would work. But Zuckerberg referenced a few models for community-building groups that exist today in the real world. Places like the Peace Corps and Alcoholics Anonymous could both work as templates for this future functionality.
All this comes on the heels Facebook’s stated goal to transform itself toward the very lofty ideal of acting as our global community online. They even listed a set of five tenets for this community in February stressing the importance of building a supportive, safe, informed, civically engaged, and inclusive community all housed on the Facebook platform.
The manifesto reads somewhat like a virtual fairytale utopia. Let’s be real – even our real-live communities don’t function with so much idealism or effectiveness. But if Facebook thinks it can help us grow our networks with positive new people we need, I’d be interested to see what the picks look like.
Read Zuckerberg’s full post below: