Mark Zuckerberg Discusses Ukraine, Video Games in Latest Town-Hall Q&A


The conflict between Ukraine and Russia was featured prominently in the latest town-hall question-and-answer session with Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, held Thursday (his 31st birthday) at the social network’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

In response to a question about the removal of content posted by bloggers in Ukraine and the blocking of some of those bloggers, Zuckerberg explained:

There has been a bunch of content that has been posted that violates the rules that we have around hate speech. We don’t allow people to post content on Facebook that is overtly hateful toward another group, that has ethnic slurs, that tries to incite violence toward an ethnic group, or anything like that. Unfortunately there were a few posts that folks were posting that kind of tripped that rule. Other folks in our community reported that in, and we looked at those and made the determination that some of those posts included ethnic slurs against some Russian folks, and we took down those posts.

I looked into this personally because this question had 45,000 votes on it, so I wanted to make sure that I understood what I was talking about before we got up here, and I stand by that. I think we did the right thing, according to our policies, in taking down those posts, and I agree with the policies we have around not supporting hate speech. I think that is a good set of rules that we have on the system.

There are a couple of questions that folks were asking about were these posts by Ukrainians moderated by Russians. There’s the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There’s this meme that was floating around about this policy and the content moderation was done out of a Russian office by Russians who were anti-Ukrainian. And that’s not true. First of all, we don’t actually have a Russian office, so anyone who thinks that this was done out of a Russian office, this should probably put that to rest. We also don’t have a Ukrainian office, and we don’t have offices in lots of other countries around the world, but maybe over time.

What we try to do when people write in and report content, we try to have folks who speak that language review it. We have a European headquarters in Dublin, where we have folks who speak a lot of different languages around the world look at the different content, and that’s what we did here.

We did make one mistake, which was when we reached out to some of the folks to tell them about the content that we had taken down, there was a bug in the system where we accidentally told folks that the content had been taken down because the posts contained nudity, instead of hate speech. That was a mistake. There was a bug in the software we are running. We fixed that. We have reached out and apologized to folks. It’s pretty clear if you look at the posts that they don’t contain nudity, so we understand why that was the source of some confusion. We’ll try not to make that mistake anymore.

Zuckerberg was also asked about his favorite video game, and whether it influenced his entry into programming, and he said:

My favorite game since I was a kid — and I still actually really like it, even though it’s a few generations later — is Civilization. It’s a really fun game, helping a civilization design an economy and develop science, and stuff like that, trying to keep everyone peaceful. I like that.

But what I really did a lot when I was a kid was I made a lot of games for myself. They were terrible, but this was how I got into programming. I got a computer when I was 10 or 11 and was playing games and wanted to make them better, so I just started kind of messing around and designing some stuff myself. The games were terrible by any objective measure of a game, but there’s some gratification that you get when it’s your game, and when you’re playing something that you designed.

I do think this dynamic around kids growing up and building games and playing games is an important one. I actually think this is how a lot of kids get into programming. I hear a lot that parents are concerned about their kids playing games, and there are valid concerns, and I think there’s an important debate to be had around that. But I do think that if you’re a parent and you don’t let your children use technology, but you also want them to grow up to be a computer programmer or be open to that if that’s what they want to do, I actually think giving people the opportunity to play around with different stuff is actually one of the best things you can to do kind of help people explore, give them a creative outlet and give them experience with things that they can kind of mess around with and build things themselves.

I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I hadn’t played games when I was a kid.

On a lighter note, Zuckerberg was asked about what will eventually replace his hoodies and grey T-shirts when he turns 80, and he answered with a laugh:

I have like 50 more years. I think I’ll figure that out by the time … hopefully I live to be 80.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first question in a town-hall Q&A about grey T-shirts. The philosophy is, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fashion, as you can see. There’s a lot of psychological research that shows that when people make decisions, it takes some of your energy, even if it’s a small decision like what are you going to eat for breakfast, or what are you going to wear. I don’t want to spend my energy on that. I want to come in and spend my time and my energy working on things that are going to build better products and connect the world.

When I’m 80, who knows what kind of incredibly unfashionable thing I’ll have found? Maybe I’ll wear like a unitard, or a one-piece. A unitard may be bad. A onesie?

Readers: What did you think of Zuckerberg’s latest town-hall Q&A?

Watch the full video of the Townhall Q&A with Mark from Menlo Park, CA

Posted by Q&A with Mark on Thursday, May 14, 2015

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IBM Panel at SXSW Discusses The #NewWayToWork


New Way to Work IBM SXSW

On Friday morning, our CEO Robin Carey moderated a panel of influencers at SXSW sponsored by IBM that discussed a new way to work, and what the workplace of the future might look like.

The panelists were a mix of traditional company executives and digital innovators: Sandy Carter, General Manager, Ecosystems and Social Business Evangelism at IBM; David Parkinson Head of Social Media and Digital Engagement at Nissan, responsible for Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Africa; Ben Hindman, co-founder and CEO, Splash; Brian Fanzo, Chief Digital Strategist; and Lulu Gephart, Manager, Social and Earned Media, REI.

Carey kicked off the event by offering the audience a chance to demo IBM’s new email platform IBM Verse, which takes email to the next level.  Verse, a new revolutionary email solution (imagine email meets social, cloud and analytics), is guided by IBM Watson Analytics to help you prioritize the people and projects you need to focus on. This new email and collaboration tool will help free your employees up to focus on what they do best.

Carey posited that the way we do business has changed dramatically in the past few years, as evidenced by the rise of activist investors and a more collaborative business model. These changes beg the question: Who will be leading the charge for a new way to work?

Fanzo, the digital strategist, responded the workplace is undergoing such rapid changes that both startups and enterprise is also embracing the “millennial mindset,” which is characterized by trying new tactics quickly and failing fast.

Carter noted however that “small changes have a monumental impact,” and some of the new ways to work are being lead by “we so called ‘digital immigrants’, those of us who didn’t grow up on social.”

Carey next turned to the notion of social business for social good, and asked REI’s Gephart if companies will be more powerful than individuals.

Gephart says that she believes that the power of the organization will likely have a greater impact than individuals. “We’re thinking more about how we lead change,” she says. “REI is a more cooperative organization, and that has an impact on who we can bring in talent-wise.”

Hindman, the startup CEO, chimed in and said that for him, the question is if he can get the right people. “How can the small guys like me compete with the big guys?”

Parkinson has a different concern: “How do we keep them in the organization?”

Fanzo counseled that the way to attract and keep young talent is to have a workplace culture that reflects some of what millennials value such as a having the ability to have a meaningful impact on the world, and flexibility over their schedules and their roles.

“Technology drives change so fast,” Fanzo notes. “You can hire people no matter where they live now–they don’t have to relocate like you had to in the past. “

“For brands,” he adds, “employees need to feel valued.”

And while startups arguably have a different org chart than an enterprise company like IBM, Nissan’s Parkinson points out that the corporate ladder serves its purpose. “When the organization is flat, it can be really hard to reach the right person,” he says. “Nissan is trying to become more agile. But you can’t do this without making money. You still have to have a bottom line.”

He further noted that big social brands such as Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat are all struggling to figure out how to create revenue.

IBM’s Carter took up Parkinson’s train of thought adding that while all companies have to make money, the real focus is on creating value for your customers and keeping them coming back. “Your culture trumps your strategy,” she notes. “And innovation and strategy will drive your success.”

Carter’s statement prompted Carey to ask which is more important—your culture or your tool set?

Fanzo, a millennial himself who feels that his generation has been unfairly characterized as not like face-to-face interactions, says that for them, it is has to be has to be about culture and technology.  “But he question is how do we properly introduce technology into a culture and when do you hold back on tech?,” he adds.

Carter says the she believes that social will amplify a company’s culture, and reiterates the need for a company to build a solid and supportive culture.

For Nissan, says Parkinson, “our question is how to innovate,” noting that other Korean car manufacturers take five years or less to bring a new model to the market.

He also says that another challenge Nissan faces is that people are coming to the company to get “a free MBA.”

“We have people coming in with seven degrees who want to launch their own startups but need to learn how businesses operate,” he says.

Carey wrapped up the panel by posing this question to each speaker: “ If you didn’t work at your current company, which of the other companies on the stage would you want to work for?”

Hindman says that he would want to work for Social Media Today because he’s drawn to the publishing industry, while Gephart demurred that while she admired the other companies, she couldn’t imagine working any place but REI. “They really stand by their core mission. Every employee gets one day off every six months to go outside and play.”

Carter says that she is drawn to REI because of their authenticity and how they drive value for their customers, but also like Splash because she loves startups for their innovation.

Fanzo, who had previously worked for the Department of Defense, said that while he loved the startup life, he would lean towards IBM. “They empower leaders who really make a difference.”

Parkinson seconded that notion. “IBM is really interesting,” he says. “They are changing the way we do business.”

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