Alex Shephard, The New Republic

Speaking to Recode earlier this year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made his case for Facebook. “I think if you look at the grand arc here, what’s really happening is individuals are getting more power and more opportunity to create the lives and the jobs that they want,” Zuckerberg told Casey Newton. “And to connect with people they want. And to connect to the ideas that they want and to share the ideas that they want. And I just think that that will lead to a better world. It will be different from the world that we had before. I think it will be more diverse, I think more different ideas and models will be able to exist.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Credits: Anthony Quintano

But Zuckerberg suggested that a problem remained. By empowering individuals, Facebook was disrupting a hierarchy that had existed for generations: “My concern is that we’re too frequently telling the negative sides of it, from the perspective of the institutions that may be not on the winning side of these changes.” For the last several years, Facebook had been besieged by a narrative that its products were making the world an uglier and divisive place. Here, Zuckerberg inverted the critique: The real victims of Facebook’s rise weren’t its users but a number of dusty institutions that were raging as their power was being redistributed to the people. In this version of events, Facebook wasn’t just empowering its users, it was liberating them.

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