Dr. Merit Cudkowicz
Director of the Sean M. Healy and AMG Center for ALS, Massachusetts General Hospital
In-person gatherings all but ceased to exist earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic roiled communities around the world. Many turned social media, more than ever, in the hope of replicating real-life experiences.
At Facebook, Maria Angelidou-Smith has touched on a number of products within the platform's News Feed, Groups, and Profile. Her current role is focused on community-building, an effort with newfound importance given the complete pivot to virtual.
Though Facebook is slammed by some as an outdated platform, the social network has seen a boost during the pandemic. It has become a place for people to organize virtual gatherings for weddings or birthdays, and even for protests against racial injustice through Events; to discuss coronavirus treatments and stay-at-home orders in Groups; and to help businesses stay afloat virtually while offices are closed down.
Any new communities product or service coming to Facebook has likely come from the team under Angelidou-Smith. But her team is also in charge of designing the platform so that users are brought together, instead of pushed apart — a point of contention as Facebook is criticized for its handling of coronavirus misinformation and other content moderation. The role Angelidou-Smith serves at Facebook will continue to be key as the 2020 election draws near.