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Facebook : CEO warns against reversal of global thinking

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02/17/2017 | 08:03am CET
Mark Zuckerberg gestures while addressing the audience during a meeting of the APEC CEO Summit in Lima

Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg laid out a vision on Thursday of his company serving as a bulwark against rising isolationism, writing in a letter to users that the company's platform could be the "social infrastructure" for the globe.

In a 5,700-word manifesto, Zuckerberg, founder of the world's largest social network, quoted Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. president during the country's 19th century Civil War known for his eloquence, and offered a philosophical sweep that was unusual for a business magnate.

Zuckerberg's comments come at a time when many people and nations around the world are taking an increasingly inward view. U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to put "America first" in his inaugural address in January. That followed Britain's decision last June to exit the European Union.

"Across the world there are people left behind by globalisation, and movements for withdrawing from global connection," Zuckerberg wrote, without naming specific movements.

The question, the 32-year-old executive said, was whether "the path ahead is to connect more or reverse course," adding that he stands for bringing people together.

Quoting from a letter Lincoln wrote to Congress in the depths of the Civil War, he wrote to Facebook's 1.9 billion users: "The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present."

Zuckerberg said that Facebook could move far beyond its roots as a network for friends and families to communicate, suggesting that it can play a role in five areas, all of which he referred to as "communities," ranging from strengthening traditional institutions, to providing help during and after crises, to boosting civic engagement.

In comments on Facebook, some users praised Zuckerberg's note for staying positive, while others declared "globalism" dead.

Facebook has been under pressure to more closely police hoaxes, fake news and other controversial content, although the concerns have had little impact on its finances. The company reported 2016 revenue of $27.6 billion, up 54 percent from a year earlier.

One area where Zuckerberg wrote that Facebook would do better would be suggesting "meaningful communities." Some 100 million users are members of groups that are "very meaningful" to them, he wrote, representing only about 5 percent of users.

Facebook is also using artificial intelligence more to flag photos and videos that need human review, Zuckerberg wrote. One-third of all reports to Facebook's review team are generated by artificial intelligence, he wrote.

Zuckerberg's letter was "a bit more ambitious and a bit more of the 30,000-foot view than I see from most tech company CEOs," Peter Micek, global policy and legal counsel at Access Now, an international digital rights group, said in a phone interview.

But Zuckerberg stayed away from certain subjects on which Facebook could be vulnerable to criticism, mentioning the word "privacy" only once, Micek said.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Leslie Adler)

By David Ingram

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Financials ($)
Sales 2017 37 842 M
EBIT 2017 21 204 M
Net income 2017 12 781 M
Finance 2017 35 788 M
Yield 2017 -
P/E ratio 2017 30,40
P/E ratio 2018 23,54
EV / Sales 2017 9,25x
EV / Sales 2018 6,98x
Capitalization 385 899 M
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Number of Analysts 48
Average target price 159 $
Spread / Average Target 19%
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NameTitle
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Sheryl Kara Sandberg Chief Operating Officer & Director
David M. Wehner Chief Financial Officer
Michael Todd Schroepfer Chief Technology Officer
Atish Banerjea Chief Information Officer
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