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Bringing The World Closer

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Facebook has finally filed for its much  anticipated IPO, in a bid to raise $5 billion, leading to a possible valuation of the company of $75 to 100 billion.

At the same time, CEO, Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook isn't really a company and isn't about maximising profits. Easy to say when you could soon be among the richest people in the world and already own a private jet - at the tender age of 27. Zuckerberg was addressing shareholders in a letter, describing Facebook as a company to whom profits were secondary, "We don't build services to make money," Zuckerberg wrote. "We make money to build better services." You would think usually, investors would want to hear about growth plans, but Zuckerberg isn't usual and in laying out Facebook's values he's trying to show the strength of the company's fundamentals. Among the driving principles that he said should shape every Facebook employee's behaviour was to always think of Facebook as a social mission; a way to make the world more connected, more open, and a better place.

When Zuckerberg mentioned how he wanted Facebook to be a platform where governments could connect with people, I couldn't help thinking of how far, especially at the moment, we were from this vision in the country. In fact, you could almost say that our powers that be have distanced themselves further with social media. When so many in governance have a silent or top-down style, increasingly alienating at least the middle class, Facebook should have been a godsend and helped them to somehow connect, even in some measures, with people. Last week, India added 5,452,980 more users to beat Indonesia. Instead, they went the route of mostly broadcasting their views on social media at the same time trying to tame it, losing out on an opportunity to connect at a time when all we hear is negative and all we see is vituperous election speeches and bickering spokespersons on television. It doesn't take time — only will.

It is not surprising then to find that many political leaders have what I think of as a negative footprint on social media.Instead of pages where they could sometimes — even for fifteen whole minutes a week — say something to ordinary people, you'll find collections of fake pages, snarky comments, and well, the hate pages are taken down else you would have found those as well. A handful are regular on Twitter though some not in their own capacity and even fewer are actually engaging with people. Those who do, definitely see a different connect with people than those who stay off or merely maintain a lofty presence. If they had been active, the very thought of the Prime Minister say, using Instagram photos from a trip around the country, wouldn't be such a bizarre idea. Barack Obama does it — and surely he's just as busy.

Mala Bhargava is a personal technology writer and media professional
Contact her at mala at pobox dot com and @malabhargava on Twitter