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Has Facebook instituted a major course correction? Perhaps. After months of disastrous publicity and a general ‘turning against’ social media in general (often led by the traditional media with its usual axe to grind, it must be said), it would be surprising if it didn’t get on the front foot, splash some cash and try to regain the initiative.
As examples of the sort of thing it wanted to encourage, it cited Blind Veterans UK, which provides practical and emotional support to blind veterans and their families; Donna Mamma, a support group for mothers in France to share advice and information; Girl Skate UK, which celebrates and brings together the female skateboarding community; Berlin Bruisers, Germany’s first gay and inclusive rugby club and, my favourite, High Society PL, a group of sneaker enthusiasts who bond over their shared passion.
You get the idea. Everything from the highly virtuous to the delightfully wacky. Everything, in fact, which doesn’t involve fake stories, political gerrymandering and hate messaging.
The programme is designed to empower leaders (or those who want to be leaders) who are building communities through Facebook apps and services. And Facebook is offering training, support and funding for such individuals through ‘residency and fellowship opportunities’. Up to five leaders will be selected to be community leaders in residence and awarded up to $1,000,000 each to fund their proposals.
In addition Facebook is organising ‘Community Leadership Circles’ to bring local community leaders together to meet up in person to connect, learn and collaborate. It says it already piloted three circles in the US in 2017 and will be expanding globally this year.
It appears to be on the right track. And remember TIP (the Telecoms Infrastructure Project)? That was also initiated by Facebook in the wake of heavy criticism – then over its policy of subsidising access in emerging economies. After some solid investment and effort TIP is seen as having done some great technical work in an effort to drop the price of telecoms infrastructure (see -TIP represents the future for telcos – those that want to prosper).