Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has called on world leaders to forge a more “connected” planet, something he said was under threat after Donald Trump’s US election win and Britain’s “Brexit” vote.
Zuckerberg said in a keynote speech yesterday at an Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit that while globalisation and interconnectedness have their problems, the world must fight the urge to “disconnect”.
“As we are learning this year in election after election, even if globalisation might (boost) prosperity, it also creates inequality. It helps some people and it hurts others,” he said.
The 32-year-old billionaire 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 in his speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru.
“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 made headlines with its projects on connectivity and internet access.
The social network has developed solar-powered drones and a satellite to beam internet service to remote areas.
The company has helped more than 40 million people get online, Zuckerberg said.
His comments came amid deep global uncertainty in the wake of the unexpected poll results in the US and Britain.
Trump and the Brexit camp both appealed to working-class voters who feel threatened by globalisation and immigration, running on a populist politics of disillusionment with an increasingly borderless world.
Trump vows to protect American jobs from cheaper labour overseas, while Brexit campaigners promise British workers will fare better outside the European Union than in it.
Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 1.79 billion users, has been criticised by some as helping Trump to victory by giving a platform to fake election news and extreme-right blogs with untruthful attacks on Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.
Zuckerberg has dismissed claims his company influenced the vote as “pretty crazy”.