Will This New Facebook Feature Start World War 3? Which Side Is Zuckerberg On?

This is a Guest Post by Don Sturgill

Will This New Facebook Feature Start World War 3? Which Side Is Zuckerberg On?

You’ve already seen flag overlays on Facebook profile photos, right? What do you think of them? Great idea? Poor idea?


Probably, the first flag overlay you saw was one of these:

  • Facebookers could access French and Belgian flag overlays to show support after the terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
  • Facebookers can add a profile frame to support their favorite sports team.
  • Facebookers were able to add an Olympic Games frame to support Team USA.

Now the world’s favorite social medial platform has released flag frames of about 200 countries. Identifying with a nation is no longer something you’ll do to show sympathy in a crisis. Flag-waving is officially a “This is the country I’m sticking up for.” Facebook-sponsored declaration.

How cool is that? All of your friends can identify themselves by national allegience, if they wish. But is that a really great idea? Will it serve to push us apart instead of bringing us together? Some say so.

Let’s talk about it.

How Has Facebook Changed The Game?

When Facebook allowed flag frames before, the move was always inspired by current global events. Something atrocious happened, people wanted to express their support for the nation – so Facebook provided a flag overlay to join the movement.

With the new development, though, there’s no particular reason necessary for you to add a flag to your profile picture… except (in most cases) to express national pride and flaunt your colors.

Oregon Ducks baseball cap. Yes it is.It’s like wearing an Oregon Ducks baseball cap. Folks know which team you’re rooting for. So what could be wrong with that? Team spirit is a good thing, right?

Well, yes, but it can also lead to squabbles and separation. If you wear that Oregon Duck cap to the Civil War game between the University of Oregon and Oregon State, you’re picking sides and making it clear which side of the battle line you’re standing on.

Nothing wrong with that either, right?

It’s all good, clean fun. Competition is healthy. Without it, we wouldn’t be encouraged to do our best, produce our best, look our best, and accomplish the most.


Why Did Facebook Do It?

Businesses look for ways to generate profit, and Facebook is a business – like it or not.

Here’s a case in point: Have you noticed the addition of tools that allow users to personalize their photos lately? That’s great for user experience. It gives you more leverage, more capability. It helps you make your Facebook profile more your own.

That’s true… but that’s not the business reason Facebook keeps upping the ante to give you what you want and keep you loyal to Facebook.

(Sorry to pop any bubbles here.)

The more Facebook can encourage people to share additional data about themselves, the more data Facebook can gather about those users, and the more data Facebook gathers the better the targeted advertising potential and the more money Facebook can rake in.

Your information allows the social giant to increase ad revenue.

I know… hard to believe… but it’s true.

One more time: Facebook is a business, and businesses must operate according to business principles in order to survive. If Facebook isn’t drawing advertisers who want to make sure you’ve heard about their new improved diet soda or how to get rich overnight scheme… somebody else will draw those advertisers, earn that money, and threaten Facebook’s position in the marketplace.


The addition of flag frames for everyone and every season probably wouldn’t have drawn much attention… had it not been for Mark Zuckerberg’s open letter.

Here’s what I mean…

USA flag

Zuckerberg’s Idea Of A Global Community

The owner of Facebook surprised the public when he released a long letter stating that his company needs to play a major role in building a global community that will bring people together.

Donald Trump. Unfortunately.It wasn’t the first time Zuckerberg has sounded off about connecting the world, but the letter was interpreted as his way of protesting the current anti-globalization tide (aka Donald Trump).

How do the flag frames fit into the mix? The Verge argues that Facebook’s idea is about “fostering a sense of global belonging.”

According to that article, the company wants you to think of its social network as your second country, one where flags of all countries can co-exist and be treated equally.

Got it? Fly your flag, not to express your separateness, but to relish the togetherness.


A Swing And A Miss

Some say adding the new flag frames, though, is somewhat contradictory to Zuckerberg’s letter. Josh Constine from TechCrunch claims the use of flags can easily be misunderstood.

He argues that waving your country’s flag all over Facebook can make you appear more foreign to users from the rest of the world. Like a Ducks fan at a Beaver’s home game, you’ll look real yellow in that sea of orange.

What do you think? Great idea or poor idea?

And how about Facebook reality in general? Have you ever noticed the wealthiest people love to encourage everyone else not to worry about money? I guess for Zuckerberg, Arianna Huffington, George Soros and the rest… money is no big deal (but they all used capitalistic means to achieve their wealth).

Pardon me for being a bit confused… but is it okay to leverage your ability to earn money by conducting a business like it’s a real business… or is it not? Why would you feed yourself with one hand, then write about how bad hands are with the other?

Okay. Let’s get on with the flag thing.

Here’s how to get started… should you choose to indulge.

Flag Israel

How To Add Your Country’s Flag To Your Facebook Profile Photo?

If you’re in the flag flying mood, here are the five steps to take to add your chosen flag to your profile picture:

Step 1: Click here to go the feature page. Alternatively, if you are using iOS or Android, tap your profile picture and choose “Add Frame”.

Step 2: Use the search box to find the desired nation’s flag.

Step 3: Use Facebook’s tools to edit the photo. You can reposition, zoom in and out or crop the photo.

Step 4: Choose how long you want to keep the flag frame. You can choose to keep it indefinitely or for a certain amount of time, such as one hour or one week.

Step 5: Choose “Set as Profile Picture”.

If you want to change the frame, simply follow these same steps. You can remove it by selecting another photo to be your profile pic.

Flying Your Flag On Facebook, Is It A Good Idea?

Will Facebook users line up against one another, flag against flag? Or will they use flags as a way to show it’s possible (and desirable) for people to be kind to one another, no matter which country they’re from?

For me, here’s the bottom line: Facebook doesn’t decide how we act. We do. Any trouble arising from flag flying is a people problem, not a social media problem and not a flag problem.

  • Respect one another.
  • Learn from one another.
  • Love one another.

And do good in business if you want to have something to give.

About the author:

Don Sturgill is a philosophy school dropout turned entrepreneur. Unfortunately, he still often finds it difficult to resist the urge to philosophize. “We don’t have to be the same color, gender, or nationality,” says Don, “but it sure is nice when we get along in spite of our differences.” Keep the conversation going on Twitter @donsturgill.

[Image credits: Flags by The Flagmakers]

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