Mark Zuckerberg has revealed deep-seated concerns that the tide is turning against globalisation.
In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, the Facebook founder said that fake news, polarised views and “filter bubbles” were damaging “common understanding”.
He said people had been left behind by global growth, sparking demands to “withdraw” from the “connected world”.
In a call to action, he said people must not “sit around and be upset”, but act to build “social infrastructures”.
“When I started Facebook, the mission of connecting the world was not controversial,” he said.
“It was as if it was a default assumption that people had; every year the world got more connected and that seems like the direction things were heading in.
“Now that vision is becoming more controversial.”
He told the BBC: “There are people around the world that feel left behind by globalisation and the rapid changes that have happened, and there are movements as a result to withdraw from some of that global connection.”
Zuckerberg’s interview comes alongside the publication of a 5,500-word letter he has written about the future of Facebook and the global economy.
In it, Zuckerberg quotes Abraham Lincoln who spoke of acting “in concert”, and talks about “spiritual needs”, civic engagement and says that many people have “lost hope for the future”.
“For a couple of decades, may be longer, people have really sold this idea that as the world comes together everything is going to get better,” he said.
“I think the reality is that over the long term that will be true, and there are pieces of infrastructure that we can build to make sure that a global community works for everyone.
“But I do think there are some ways in which this idea of globalisation didn’t take into account some of the challenges it was going to create for people, and now I think some of what you see is a reaction to that.
“If people are asking the question, is the direction for humanity to come together more or not? I think that answer is clearly yes.
“But we have to make sure the global community works for everyone. It is not just automatically going to happen,” he said.