The millennial innovator who got the world to share sonograms, goofy wedding photos, relationship statuses and innermost thoughts onFacebook is doing a lot of sharing himself these days.
Now Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the site, has added his voice to one of the most contentious political issues of the moment, with a strong statement on Wednesday night in support of Muslims and Islam. Granted, his statement also made good business sense for Facebook. The site hasjust over one billion daily active users, many of them Muslims.
He has defended his approach to philanthropy, posted gleeful tidbits about his mop-haired dog dressed up for Hanukkah and shared the joys ofparenthood after he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, overcame difficulties in conceiving.
“I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote in Facebook post on Wednesday night, in which he again invoked his newborn child. “After the Paris attacksand hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others.
“As a Jew,” he wrote, “my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone.
“If you’re a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.”
The message came amid rising anti-Muslim commentary in the wake of the attack in California and a backlash against comments by Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican candidate for president. Mr. Zuckerberg did not single out Mr. Trump or anyone else.
But he has shown a new level of openness since July, when he announcedthat he and Dr. Chan were expecting a baby.
As of Thursday afternoon, his post had been shared more than 184,000 times, and had been liked nearly 1.3 million times. It also became a forum on bias and race, with more than 58,000 comments.
Some expressed appreciation for his support of Muslims and his denouncements of stereotypes that arise after episodes of extremist Islamist violence.
Other writers pointed out how Facebook made tools showing support after attacks in some countries, like Safety Check and the one-click option to overlay profile pictures with the French tricolor after the Paris attacks, but not in others, such as the bombings in Beirut, Lebanon.
There were also calls for him to take action against extremist groups’ accounts on Facebook and to denounce attacks against Jews just as vocally.
“Words and actions must be the same,” commented a user with the profile name Leyla Hyda, who urged a Facebook ban for right-wing groups in England. “Whilst I appreciate your status I feel that your actions should mirror your words.”
A user with the name Menucha Kahn-Brenner wrote: “While I agree with your message it makes me sad that as a Jew you don’t stand up and support your own community when it comes to the hate we face everyday.”
As part of its administration of the site’s content, Facebook has worked to separate political discussions from attacks on specific people or religions.
In 2012, Facebook blocked links to an anti-Islamic video in Pakistan, where such content violates the country’s blasphemy law.
In 2010, it declined to take down pages related to “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” an Internet-wide protest to defend free speech that surfaced in repudiation of death threats received by two cartoonists who had drawn pictures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Its refusal to shut down that debate caused Pakistan and Bangladesh to block Facebook in their countries for several days.
Aside from mentioning Muslims, Paris and the recent attacks in California, Mr. Zuckerberg’s post also appeared to have a more general message. In summary, he wrote: “Having a child has given us so much hope, but the hate of some can make it easy to succumb to cynicism. We must not lose hope. As long as we stand together and see the good in each other, we can build a better world for all people.”