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Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook's 2018: We've changed, we promise

The Facebook CEO sums up the year, covering all the things his company's done -- including responding to an endless string of scandals.

Mark Zuckerberg in happier times, two years ago.
James Martin

It's nearly the new year, which means time for some reflection on what's happened and what's to come. For Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, that means looking back on one really tough year.

The 34-year old wunderkind struggled this year, in what's been arguably the toughest in the 14 years since co-founding Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.

There was the Cambridge Analytica scandal, followed by Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill, then a massive hack affecting 29 million people. And don't forget the bombshell report from The New York Times questioning both Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg's leadership. In just a short couple of years, Zuckerberg has gone from possible presidential contender to a parody on SNL. It's been rough.

In his year-end post on Friday, Zuckerberg is optimistic, if a little defensive. 

He ticked off changes the company's made -- or, as he put it, "We've fundamentally altered our DNA" -- to focus more on handling the bad stuff that happens on Facebook. That includes tackling Russian interference in our elections, stopping harmful and bullying posts, and promising to give people more control over their data. He also noted that Facebook now has 30,000 people working on safety and harassment issues, and it's investing billions of dollars in security each year.

He acknowledged these issues will take more than a year to fix. But he said the company's started multiyear plans to address them. That doesn't mean he thinks Facebook is fully on the ball. "In the past we didn't focus as much on these issues as we needed to, but we're now much more proactive," he wrote.

"I've learned a lot from focusing on these issues and we still have a lot of work ahead," Zuckerberg added. "I'm proud of the progress we've made in 2018 and grateful to everyone who has helped us get here -- the teams inside Facebook, our partners and the independent researchers and everyone who has given us so much feedback. I'm committed to continuing to make progress on these important issues as we enter the new year."

That leaves Zuckerberg in an odd spot for his annual personal challenge, which over the years has included everything from reading more to learning Mandarin. Last year, his challenge was to build personal assistant software like Jarvis, the comic book AI-sidekick for Iron Man. (Only, instead of being voiced by the Avengers movie star Paul Bettany, Zuckerberg's was voiced by Morgan Freeman. Because, why not?)

At the beginning of this year, Zuckerberg chose to make his annual challenge about fixing Facebook. By his own measure, there's still work to be done. Which is why some Twitter users suggested he try something less daunting while he continues working on Facebook. 

Read Zuckerberg's full post below.

For 2018, my personal challenge has been to focus on addressing some of the most important issues facing our community...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, December 28, 2018

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