Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested Facebook is able to offer a sense of community, filling the gap left by falling church membership.
As the social networking site announced it had hit the two billion user mark – with one in every four people now using Facebook every month – Zuckerberg boasted the “world is a little brighter now”.
With 100 million users taking part in what Zuckerberg called “meaningful communities” within Groups on Facebook, he spoke of his ambition to raise that number to a billion.
He said: “If we can do this, it will not only turn around the whole decline in community membership we’ve seen for decades, it will start to strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together.”
Comparing the site to a church, he went on to talk about the need for “great leaders” in such a community, saying: “A church doesn’t just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter.”
He went on to say: “People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity – not just because they’re religious, but because they’re part of a community.”
Earlier in the year, Zuckerberg published a 6,500-word manifesto to beat fake news, outlining his plan to “come together to build a global community that works for everyone”.
However, last week the network changed its mission statement from “Make the world more open and connected” to “Bring the world closer together”.
Announcing the two billion user milestone on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg wrote: “We’re making progress connecting the world”. He went on to say: “It’s an honor to be on this journey with you”.
The tech giant has manged to double its audience over the last five years after reaching the one billion user landmark in October 2012.
Every day, more than 800 million people “like” something on Facebook and more than 750 million new friends connect.
Founded 13 years ago, Facebook is now one of the world’s most valuable companies, worth $65bn (£51bn).
But it’s not all good news for Facebook.
A recent report looking into the music and social media habits of young people aged up to 19 – dubbed Generation Z – claimed the site may soon become a thing of the past as the digital natives turn to SnapChat and Instagram.
And the site has recently faced a barrage of criticism for failing to moderate extreme content.
It responded by introducing artificial intelligence to remove terrorist content and 3,000 extra staff in an effort to stop violent and illegal uploads appearing on the platform.
Meanwhile, the social network has announced that it intends to start broadcasting its own shows and series by the end of the summer.
Relationship drama Strangers and game show Last State Standing are pencilled in to be the first shows to be aired on the platform.