From public takedowns and security scandals to incriminating emails, Facebook carries a lot of baggage these days. It’s almost hard to believe this behemoth social media company started out as a place to simply message friends, share pics from your family vacations, or wish your old pal a happy birthday. Many young people, particularly those in Generation Z, are avoiding Facebook in favor of other apps like SnapChat. But advertisers can’t simply ignore this platform with over two billion monthly users—and Facebook is giving us a reason to stick around.
As early as five years ago, the potential of where Facebook could go and how much impact it could generate was apparent. In 2015, a team at Facebook dedicated to social good was formed. This team was tasked with building new products that non-profit and charitable organizations could use to educate supporters and increase advocacy.
In 2017, Facebook updated their mission to a more focused vision: “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” You may have noticed during that same year the posts that began filling your feed from your Aunt Sally asking for donations to the local animal shelter on her birthday. Birthday fundraisers were a product of the social good team, and quickly became an easy way to do good and shine light on causes that were meaningful to individual users. This feature raised over $300 million for various organizations in its first year.
The “Facebook Social Good” page has since become a place to find tools, guides, and best practices for charitable giving, crisis response, health, and mentorship. During an emergency, such as a major earthquake, you can let others know you’re safe with Safety Check. When the Facebook team realized that some people who experience a mental illness use this platform as an outlet to express their feelings, the team used AI to create a way to provide resources to people who may be having suicidal thoughts. Lastly, going back to its roots of connecting people, Facebook rolled out a Mentorship feature that easily connects people who are seeking or providing mentoring.
Today, Facebook is more than just a way to simply like and share a funny video. Individuals and organizations are using the platform to help create social movements, fundraise, and spread ideas. These activities happening on the site are exactly what Mark Zuckerberg envisioned when proclaiming the original mission of the company “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
So, even if you only log onto your Facebook account to clear the notifications, this company is still moving along. Baggage problems aside, it’s creating ways for all of us to not only stay connected with friends and family, but also providing tools to make our communities a little better.