Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage yesterday for the latest Facebook Townhall Q&A. He spent the better part of an hour fielding a mix of serious and silly questions about everything from virtual reality and artificial intelligence to why he doesn’t wear a different coloured shirt (he does, on weekends) and what his favourite emoji is (the FB cactus stickers).
By and large, the topics he covered and insights he shared were nothing new for anyone who tuned in to his last Townhall Q&A, but there were three big points he touched on that are creating buzz online.
1. Facebook is introducing a “dislike” button
After years and years of pleading, the Big Z has finally relented to the Facebook community and is currently testing a “dislike” button for posts on FB.
His reasoning for this goes beyond allowing trolls to pooh-pooh posts whenever the fancy strikes them. His end goal here is to foster a sense of greater sense of empathy on Facebook.
Simply put – sometimes people post things to Facebook that you want to interact with, but not necessarily like. These could be tragic news events or posts about the death of friends or family. A “dislike” button allows that interaction.
Whether or not this will apply to ad content on Facebook is yet to be confirmed. That’s where things could get interesting for brands.
If nothing else, it will certainly push the quality of ad content up on Facebook. It will also force brands to be more selective in their ad targeting lest they end up posting ads that receive a crippling amount of “dislikes” and end up with social egg-face.
2. “Personalised Learning” is Zuck’s new buzzword
In response to a question about making Facebook a platform for education in the future, Zuckerberg shared some of the work Facebook is doing with regards to personalised learning.
Under our current main-stream education system, a standard curriculum is taught to millions of learners whether it suits them or not.
Zuckerberg’s vision is a world where software enables teachers to tailor the education experience to better fit individual students. He is currently working with Summit Public School in San Francisco’s Bay Area where he has deployed a team of 20 of his software engineers to write software that caters for students that have different learning needs.
Ultimately he wants to empower teachers. Make their lives easier whilst creating learning models that students get the most value from.
3. AI + VR = Telepathy!
This is something that Zuck touched on in his last Townhall Q&A. It seems that any time people ask him questions about future technology, in a matter of seconds Zuckerberg is talking about a future where we can transmit our thoughts to one another telepathically from anywhere in the world.
He argues that we already have access to tech that allows amputees to transmit neural messages to bionic limbs. Given 10 – 20 years, is it really that much of a stretch to imagine evolving that tech to achieve telepathy?
In the short term though, Zuck shared an anecdote about current Oculus Rift tech that allows you to play ping pong with friends based anywhere in the world. You can then change the way gravity works in the game by setting it to “underwater” or “space”.
From a practical perspective, this means that people who have an Oculus headset (which will be available to consumers in Q1 of 2016) will be able to share their experiences on Facebook with you in a way that makes you feel like you’re physically there.
Combine that with immersive video and you have a future where we will be able to share our experiences with one another in ways we can’t begin to comprehend.
On the AI front, Facebook is toiling away endlessly to learn what kind of content people like receiving to ensure better relevance for the people consuming that content. Their AI is also being put to work at learning to interpret content so that inappropriate or offensive content is limited on the platform.
Zuck’s new world is a brave one indeed. The opportunities it will open up for brands are endless, but the basic rules remain the same: create great, relevant content and serve it to the right people to connect meaningfully with your audience.