Facebook via mobile devices remains untapped government resource, says Facebook VP
About 600 million people worldwide access Facebook regularly on their mobile devices, says Elliot Schrage, Facebook's Vice President of Communications and Public Policy. Schrage, who served as a panelist at a Feb. 6 Social Media and Behavioral Economics Conference sponsored by Harvard Law School, claims mobile platforms are now used more widely on Facebook than desktop PCs to access friends and communities of interest.
Consequently, with more than a billion people around the world using Facebook, Schrage argues that governments globally cannot ignore the social media juggernaut.
"We see extraordinary opportunities for public institutions to leverage this technology to advance public and collective goods," he says, with existing institutions of government incorporating "these tools into their day-to-day functions and operations in a way that hasn't even really begun."
The events of the Arab Spring demonstrate the revolutionary potential of Facebook and other social media, according to Schrage. Government needs to unlock the opportunities that connections and the social power of "friends" can create for governance and public institutions, he asserts.
"Numerous studies have demonstrated how social networks can impact personal health issues from weight loss to smoking to a variety of medical-related issues," says Schrage.
U.S. Census and other government data collection activities can benefit from social media "rather than essentially inventing the wheel every 10 years," he advises.
Schrage says he would like to see government fund application development on the Facebook platform to promote education, health, and governance initiatives.
"It would be tragic if we build a regulatory environment today that forecloses the opportunities of these technologies to advance these public objectives before they've even begun," he warns.
-watch video of panel on YouTube