Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg called on world leaders Saturday to forge a more “connected” world, something he said was under threat after Donald Trump’s US election win and Britain’s “Brexit” vote.
Zuckerberg, whose social network has been criticized by some as helping Trump to victory by giving a platform to fake election news, said the world must fight isolationism — a stance the billionaire president-elect has often been accused of.
Trump and the Brexit camp both appealed to working-class voters who feel threatened by globalization and immigration, running on a populist politics of disillusionment with an increasingly borderless world.
Trump vows to protect American jobs from cheaper labor overseas, while Brexit campaigners promise British workers will fare better outside the European Union than in it.
Zuckerberg said in a speech at a summit of top leaders from the Asia-Pacific that while globalization has its problems, the world must fight the urge to “disconnect.”
“As we are learning this year in election after election, even if globalization might grow the overall pie of prosperity, it also creates inequality. It helps some people and it hurts others,” Zuckerberg said in a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru.
He said there was a “fundamental choice” to make in reacting to that inequality.
“We can disconnect, risk less prosperity and hope jobs that are lost come back. Or we can connect more, try to do more great things, try to work on even greater prosperity and then work to aggressively share that prosperity with everyone.”
The second option is better, but also harder, he said.
“Disconnecting is relatively easy. But connecting requires making big investments in infrastructure and generating the political will to make hard long-term decisions,” he said.
Facebook has come in for controversy for the kind of news it featured prominently during the US campaign.
According to one analysis, its top-performing stories included a disproportionate amount of bogus news from hoax websites and extreme-right blogs with untruthful attacks on Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.
Zuckerberg has dismissed the claim as “pretty crazy.”