Facebook's purpose is now bigger than simply connecting individuals to each other, according to Mark Zuckerberg.

The CEO of the world's largest social network, with more than 1.8 billion monthly users, posted a 5,734-word mission statement Thursday in which he said the next focus for the company will be to develop the "social infrastructure" for a connected, global community.

According to Zuckerberg's treatise, Facebook can - and should - help address such pressing issues as ending terrorism, fighting climate change, and preventing pandemics, as well as combating the spread of fake news and hate speech.

"For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families," he wrote.

"In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us."

The 32-year-old billionaire's post is the first overarching update on Facebook's mission since 2012, at the time of the company's initial public offering.

In that statement five years ago, he focused on interpersonal relations but conveyed the similarly lofty goal of making "the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company".

But what does Facebook's bigger vision mean on a practical level? According to Zuckerberg, it means that Facebook will focus on tools "to amplify the good effects and mitigate the bad".

Facebook will concentrate on building products in five areas: The company wants to help communities become more supportive, safe, informed, civically engaged and inclusive, Zuckerberg wrote.

Technologies like artificial intelligence will need more investment in order to be useful to Facebook's communities.

"It's worth noting that major advances in AI are required to understand text, photos and videos to judge whether they contain hate speech, graphic violence, sexually explicit content, and more," Zuckerberg said, adding that the company hopes to "begin handling some of these cases in 2017, but others will not be possible for many years".

AAP

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