Facebook's New Grand Plan To Draw You In : All Tech Considered In quintessential Silicon Valley style, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveils ambitious plans to bring users from 2-D news feeds to 3-D imaginary worlds and neglects safety concerns.
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Facebook's New Grand Plan To Draw You In

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Facebook's New Grand Plan To Draw You In

Facebook's New Grand Plan To Draw You In

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news - the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, gave a public address yesterday in Silicon Valley. He laid out the company's grand plan for the next year. And in that plan, Zuckerberg provided dazzling details about how Facebook plans to use cameras, like the ones on your smartphone, to draw us deeper into digital life. He also gave no details about how Facebook will address growing safety concerns online. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: You could roughly divide Zuckerberg's speech into two or, let's say, three parts.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK ZUCKERBERG: (Unintelligible) Hey.

SHAHANI: He was speaking at F8. In tech land, that stands for the Facebook developer conference, which brings together thousands of people who make apps for Facebook. Though, of course, for the rest of the world, F8 stands for "The Fast And The Furious."

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ZUCKERBERG: While "Fast And Furious'" tagline is never give up on family, ours is similar - never give up on the family of apps.

(LAUGHTER)

SHAHANI: After Zuckerberg laughed at a few of his own jokes, he pivoted to what seemed like a serious timely place.

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ZUCKERBERG: Last month, I wrote a letter on building community. I have it here.

(LAUGHTER)

SHAHANI: The Jumbotron projected his manifesto, which he published in February, about how broken the human social fabric is and how Facebook could solve that by connecting us, though being connected is not an unconditional good, a fact that Zuckerberg acknowledged.

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ZUCKERBERG: We have a lot more to do here. And we're reminded of this this week by the tragedy in Cleveland.

SHAHANI: He expressed condolences to the loved ones of Robert Godwin Sr., whose murder was broadcast on Facebook.

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ZUCKERBERG: And we have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.

SHAHANI: It sounded as if Zuckerberg was about to lay out for his audience, the people helping to build this platform, what they all need to take seriously, how they need to think about the fact that people hijack the app to broadcast gratuitous violence, to wage propaganda wars with fake news, to bully and to hate. But that's not what he did. Instead, the 32-year-old CEO pivoted again abruptly to a radical vision for how Facebook will move us from the two-dimensional news feed to vibrant 3D imaginary worlds.

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ZUCKERBERG: Think about if your daughter is a big "Harry Potter" fan, for her birthday, you can change your home into Hogwarts.

SHAHANI: Facebook wants to use smartphone cameras and virtual reality headsets to create 3D digital spaces all around us. Instead of seeing a real painting, you could don a headset and staring at a blank wall, see imaginary art. Your kids could wear their goggles at breakfast and see fun little sharks swimming around the bowl of Cheerios. Or say you wake up for your morning coffee...

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ZUCKERBERG: You can add a second coffee mugs so it looks like you're not drinking - you're not having breakfast alone.

SHAHANI: In the imaginary world, the possibilities are endless.

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ZUCKERBERG: You can tap on the wine bottle and you can add an information card that shows what the vintage of the wine is and, you know, what the rating is and maybe where to get it and maybe, in the future, even a link to buy it.

SHAHANI: The company is releasing an initial version of something called Facebook Spaces, a new virtual reality app that lets you hang out with your Facebook friends in VR as 3D cartoon characters or avatars. Facebook VR guru Rachel Rubin Franklin explained onstage the company is using artificial intelligence to suggest how you should look, though you have the final word, of course.

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RACHEL RUBIN FRANKLIN: You can add glasses or facial hair, you can change your eye and hair color.

SHAHANI: When you step back and take in this Facebook keynote, it appears Mark Zuckerberg and his leadership are, like the best engineers, deeply excited about the new worlds they can build but also deeply unsure about how to govern these worlds. Aarti Shahani, NPR News, San Jose.

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