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Home / Opinion / Online-views /  Mark Zuckerberg waves the magic wand, but not everyone is hypnotized

It had all the trappings of a company that wants to own the world. There were flying drones, solar powered planes, lasers, beaming satellites and simulated virtual reality experiences. The 2,600-strong audience sat enthralled as the magician, Facebook Inc.’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg—pulled out surprise after surprise on the opening day of the company’s Developer Conference or F8.

Dressed in his ubiquitous blue back jeans and a grey T-shirt, the Facebook founder pulled out all the stops as he plugged his vision and laid out the roadmap for the next 10 years, using Facebook Live to stream it.

So, what were the elements of Zuckerberg’s 10-year roadmap? In a nutshell, the grand plan is all about connectivity through different forms of technology, building virtual reality to experience the world in different ways, artificial intelligence to help interact with services easily, offering low-cost internet via solar-powered planes and creating customized bots; the ultimate goal being to create one big Facebook-powered global community that will stay connected.

Zuckerberg used the right emotional pitches: how a mother in India wants to work so her family can have a better life, a father in the US wants a cleaner planet for his children, while the daughter in Sierra Leone just needs basic healthcare and education to reach her full potential. And how the three tied in with his mission of working to bring the world together and were thus part of the global Facebook community.

“The Internet has enabled all of us to access and share more ideas and information than ever before. We’ve gone from a world of isolated communities to one global community, and we are all better off for it," he said.

But is Zuckerberg wearing rose-tinted glasses? Who cares about fancy technology when millions in the developing countries are scrounging for basic necessities of food and clothing, while others in different parts are battling for justice and dignity and free speech. Comments on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page resonate with such queries from people in countries like Morocco, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Of course, such comments are few and far amid the barrage of adulation.

The journey of Facebook from 2004, when it was launched as a social media company, to 2016, when it wants to connect the entire world through technology and innovation, is also the evolution of Zuckerberg’s dreams and ambitions. Today, he dreams of a world where it is just not enough to get people on to the website. That simple dream has turned into an overarching ambition of controlling the Internet, of how Facebook can be synchronized and synonymized with the Internet via a seamless interface of new technology. An age where with all the virtual reality and artificial intelligence, we can be prisoners of technology, where technology can bind us rather than be a liberating force.

More importantly, as AdWeek points out Zuckerberg’s speech underscored that he is quickly becoming an unusually powerful media figure, getting countless thousands of people to watch at least part of his 9-year-old event on Facebook.

The report further compares Zuckerberg to Oprah Winfrey, popular American TV show host and actor, saying that what Winfrey was to the 1990s and 2000s—changing the TV landscape with incredible consumer devotion, Zuckerberg seems to be to the future of all things digital. While Winfrey used her fame and popularity to create a publishing empire, Zuckerberg is capitalizing on a hugely popular social network to transform it further into areas like VR and live streaming.

At the end of his 32-minute-long speech, Zuckerberg gave away freebies—Samsung VR headsets, powered by Samsung smartphones that reportedly cost a whopping $800—fully redeeming the cost of the ticket that was for about $595. Are these sleek, shiny toys then the price of owning and controlling the Internet?

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