By Felix Allen
Mark Zuckerberg has claimed Facebook is “the new church” and the social network can take on the role that religion once did in giving people a sense of community.
The billionaire boss said groups on Facebook could give people a sense they are part of “something bigger than ourselves” akin to a religious congregation.
Facebook passed 2 billion users this week — meaning almost one in three of the global population are signed up.
And its founder said people could find “purpose and support” online that previous generations found by going to church.
Zuckerberg has recently been pushing the idea of communities as Facebook’s new mission and last week said it would be the company’s focus from now on.
In a speech in Chicago, he said only 100 million Facebook users are part of what he called a “meaningful community.”
This meant they were part of a group on Facebook that involved regular interactions with other people.
Zuckerberg said he wanted the 100 million figure to rise to 1 billion.
He said: “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.”
“As I’ve traveled 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.”
“Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us.”
Zuckerberg has denied he has ambitions to run for president, but he recently went on a week-long listening tour of America that looked like a political campaign.
In a recent interview with CNN, he said connecting people is not enough and that Facebook has a responsibility to manage its communities.