Facebook founder Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday.
Zuckerberg became the latest tech head to visit Pope Francis this year. The head of the Catholic church and the CEO of Facebook reportedly “spoke of how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage the culture of encounter and bring a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged,” according to Elise Harris of Crux.
Pope meets Zuckerberg to discuss philanthropy
Zuckerberg and Chan have previously committed to donating 99% of their Facebook stock “for advancing human potential and promoting equality.” The stock is worth billions of dollars.
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Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken on the theme of poverty, and has repeatedly tried to bring hope to the poor and marginalized. Francis also appears to appreciate the power of the digital world, despite admitting that he doesn’t have a cell phone or a computer.
The Pope has also met with Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt and Apple CEO Tim Cook this year. Francis has also met with Leonardo DiCaprio, who has a keen interest in climate change.
Francis opened a Twitter account in 2012, and made an Instagram profile on March 19 this year. On February 26 he met with CEO and co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, at the Vatican.
Facebook CEO makes philanthropic pledge
Zuckerberg is one of the world’s richest people, with an estimated net work of $53.7 billion. He has pledged to give away almost all of the $45 billion in Facebook stock.
The Pope has previously noted that “80% of the world’s riches are in the hands of 17% of the population.” This would obviously include people such as Zuckerberg, however the Facebook chief later set up the “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative” to handle philanthropic work which aims to promote equality “for all children in the next generation.”
“Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here,” they wrote. “But right now, we don’t always collectively direct our resources at the biggest opportunities and problems your generation will face.”
The aim of the Initiative is to focus on “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” The main area of interest is long-term investments in health and education, while also using technology to effect positive change.
Conservative news reportedly suppressed on Facebook
Before setting up the Initiative, Zuckerberg and Chan had agreed to use their wealth for philanthropic ends with The Giving Pledge, a campaign set up by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010. The aim is to get the richest people in the world to donate their money to philanthropic causes.
Interestingly for relations between Facebook and the Catholic church, it appears that the social media giant may be censoring some conservative news from appearing on users’ home feeds. A report from Gizmodo quotes several former Facebook employees who claim that it was routine for conservative news to be suppressed in the “trending news” section.
The ex-employees say that they occasionally received instructions to insert certain stories into the “trending” section, regardless of whether they had garnered enough attention to warrant inclusion. The news curators were also given the freedom to “blacklist” topics that they didn’t think should appear.
Facebook has since denied allegations of bias and launched an internal investigation. Some people have been left doubting the impartiality of the social network after the story broke.