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Mark Zuckerberg’s personal challenge this year is to fix Facebook

He won’t be killing his own food or learning Mandarin. Zuckerberg wants to focus on his company.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg waves to the audience from the F8 stage Justin Sullivan / Getty

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sets a personal challenge each year, a kind of public New Year’s resolution that he posts about all year long.

A few years ago he set out to learn Mandarin. He also built a robot butler for his home. Last year, he toured America to spend more time with regular citizens (who were also likely Facebook users).

Zuckerberg’s goal this year: Fix Facebook.

Or at least improve some of the most important elements of Facebook that have gotten the company into hot water over the past 12 months, like its unintended role as a propaganda weapon for Russia during last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Here’s how he described it in a post on Thursday.

The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do -- whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.

My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.

You might be thinking: Well isn’t fixing a company’s issues already the job of the CEO?

Yes, it is. And Zuckerberg seems to realize that too, adding that one of the reasons he’s choosing this challenge is so he won’t distract himself from Facebook’s important problems by going around and killing all his own food (that was his 2011 challenge).

“This may not seem like a personal challenge on its face,” Zuckerberg continued. “But I think I’ll learn more by focusing intensely on these issues than I would by doing something completely separate.”

Zuckerberg has been very philosophical over the past 12 months, regularly posting about his greater ambitions for tech and Facebook in particular. This time, Zuckerberg talked about the importance of “centralization vs decentralization” in tech — in other words, who is benefitting from tech’s tremendous power.

“A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands,” he wrote. “But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”

Facebook, of course, is one of those “big tech companies” with an immense amount of power. Not only does the company help shape the news for more than two billion people worldwide, but it controls a massive share of the global digital advertising market, which is making it difficult for smaller companies, including media companies, to survive.

But Zuckerberg says he’s thinking about all of that and taking his role as the leader of one of the world’s premier tech giants very seriously.

“This will be a serious year of self-improvement and I’m looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together,” he wrote.

Every year I take on a personal challenge to learn something new. I've visited every US state, run 365 miles, built an...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, January 4, 2018

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