Lecture: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg #lsesandberg
Today, Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, came to give a lecture at the LSE, entitled “It’s all about people”. Here is a summary of the most important points she mentioned.
- In the UK, over 30 million people are on Facebook.
- The average user in the UK spends about 7 hours a month on Facebook. This is more than 3 times the amount spent on the second most visited website in the UK (2h/month).
- Every day, 15 million friend connections on Facebook
- Every day, 50 million people ‘like’ a page on Facebook
The birth of the social web
Before the creation of Facebook, people were anonymous on the Internet. But since Facebook, there has been a fundamental transformation: the social web deals with real identities: you are no longer anonymous, you show your real identity on Facebook because you connect with the real people in your life.
The second shift is from search to social discovery. When you go on Facebook, you are not looking for something specific, you are not trying to retrieve information: this is the birth of the social web, where the “who” is gradually replacing the “what”.
Invisible victims can become visible
According to Sandberg, because of the social web, invisible victims can become visible. She gave numerous examples of this “revolution”. She says “on Facebook, strangers do amazing things from strangers”: they can help each other out when facing life-threatening situations for instance.
As mentioned in a previous talk at LSE, Sandberg notes that the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions were not Facebook revolutions, but people’s revolutions. Facebook provided a platform (the technology) but it could have happened on other networks.
The social web and politics
The social web also has a role to play in politics. On Facebook, citizens can get the opportunity to start a dialogue with their representatives. Sandberg took the example of Obama, notoriously called the “Facebook candidate”, as an illustration of how social media can be used by politicians as a way to increase their credibility and gain the support of a younger audience. Similarly, the UK election was a “two screen election”, stressing the importance of the TV and the computer screen. 1.6 million people clicked “I voted” on Facebook to tell their friends they voted during the UK election. In the future, we can expect more leaders to embrace these tools to communicate with the masses.
Facebook and privacy
Sandberg stressed many times that privacy was very important to Facebook: according to her, individuals have more and more control over the information they share. A few privacy questions came up during the Q&A, which inevitably shows that privacy is an important issue to Facebook users. This seems to be confirmed by a recent study showing that 80% of users are concerned about privacy.
Source: Netpop Research, LLC
The future of the web and the future of Facebook
Sandberg noted that Facebook doesn’t want to control people but empower them. She thinks there are endless possibilities to social networking and that it will be key in predicting the spread of disease for example.
She is very optimistic about the future, and about the role that Facebook will play in transforming and “connecting the whole world”. She mentions the existence of the website peace.facebook.com, which states that “by enabling people from diverse backgrounds to easily connect and share their ideas, we can decrease world conflict in the short and long term.“
Finally, Sandberg also believes that the web will be rebuilt around people: all industries (finance, commerce, healthcare, etc) will be influenced by social design. For Facebook, it’s people first and content/product second. And we have come full circle, reminding us that “It’s all about people”.
If you are interested in the lecture, make sure to check Charlie Beckett’s blog, the director of POLIS, as an article about the lecture will be up in the next couple of days.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comments below!