CHICAGO: For years, Facebook's stated aim has been to "give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected", but now the social media giant is placing much greater emphasis on building communities.

Its new mission statement is to "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together", which the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last week at the inaugural Facebook Communities Summit in Chicago.

This event brought together hundreds of administrators of Facebook Groups, the feature enabling like-minded users to communicate with each other about their shared interests, which often are of societal value.

"For the past decade, we've focused on making the world more open and connected. We're not done yet and we will continue working to give people a voice and help people connect," Zuckerberg said on his own Facebook page.

"But even as we make progress, our society is still divided. So now I believe we have a responsibility to do even more. It's not enough to simply connect the world; we must also work to bring the world closer together."

Building on ideas he set out in a manifesto earlier this year, as well as his ongoing "meet and greet" tour of all 50 US states, Zuckerberg said that tackling many challenges – whether climate change, ending poverty or disease – can only be achieved by working together.

"This isn't going to happen top down. Change starts local, when enough of us feel a sense of purpose and support in our own lives that we can start caring about broader issues too," he asserted.

"This is our challenge. We have to build a world where every single person has a sense of purpose and community. That's how we'll bring the world closer together."

To that end, an important part of Facebook's new mission is to support its group admins, who the company regards as "real community leaders" on Facebook.

Kang-Xang Jin, Facebook's VP of Engineering, explained in a separate blogpost that more than a billion people around the world use Facebook Groups, with around 100m belonging to "meaningful groups".

Facebook considers "meaningful" to be when a user spends at least 30 minutes a week in a group and it set out a new goal to attract one billion people into these groups.

To help meet this aim, the company also announced the launch of a suite of new tools to help group admins, including real-time metrics known as Group Insights, membership request filtering, group to group linking, and measures to keep their communities safe from "bad actors".

Data sourced from Facebook; additional content by WARC staff