You may have read recently that Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged $3 billion to ‘cure, prevent or manage all disease’ by the end of the century.
It’s a brave statement and a bold move, but it certainly shouldn’t be underestimated as something unachievable. Similar, seemingly unobtainable goals have already almost been reached by Bill & Melinda Gates' Foundation with their research and treatment for eradicating Polio and Malaria.
However, $3 billion doesn’t seem an awfully large amount of money given the gargantuan task ahead. It’s worth considering though that Facebook may be able to bring more to the table than just money.
Facebook and Instagram (a Facebook owned company) earlier this year started making changes to the order in which their user’s content is presented, taking what was a chronological order to an order driven by algorithms, something at the time which seemed amiss. The average user of both social networks treats them as a place to read what their friends and followed are up to at any given time, with the assumption it’s presenting everything in a timely fashion.
Facebook has recently included more reactions than just 'Like' for users to respond to posted content which, we would imagine, is to inform the complex algorithms with more precise feelings towards a post. Instagram, by its very nature, is full of jealousy inducing, sickening, lovely things to look at. Showing the more loved pictures should only increase those feelings of happiness (and continued envy of course).
It’s not a giant leap to assume that these social networks now intend to show us more things we like (alongside some adverts for things we might like in the future). The power of providing us with positive affirming, relevant content (cats playing the piano, breathtaking, relaxing landscapes) that makes us 'happy' could have a powerful positive affect on our lives.
Considering many of us reach for our smartphones first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed even, setting us up with life-affirming positive content over the usual 'negative-news' will surely bring about a change in the very physiology of our thoughts for the rest of the day.
Sadly it’s never going to cure cancer, polio or malaria but perhaps placing positive, life-affirming content and imagery ahead of negative, sad and depressing news could provide that placebo effect to help manage some illnesses or provide a change in the general outlook of many.