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Zuckerberg : why did journalists decide that the head of Facebook intends to become president

They have reason to think so.

Mark Zuckerberg. Getty Photos
Mark Zuckerberg. Getty Photos

Since early 2017, the head of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg travels to the US states. He dines and communicates with the locals, and also visits historical sites to get to know the audience of his social network.

Although Zuckerberg also claims that his unexpected tour is only of an introductory nature, coupled with changes in the views of the entrepreneur, he poses the question: is the leader of a social network preparing to start a political career or is trying to restore the shaken reputation of Facebook.

Rumors about the presidency

Mark Zuckerberg is known for ambitious tasks, which he sets himself every year. In 2013 he decided to get acquainted with new people every day. In 2014 – daily write letters of thanks. In 2015 he opened his own book club and read 23 books a year. In 2016, Zuckerberg ran almost 590 kilometers. In January 2017, his promises acquired a different scale: the head of Facebook announced his intention to visit all US states before the end of the year.

Since then, articles about the political ambitions of the entrepreneur began to appear in Western media. The Guardian , Vanity Fair and The Atlantic put forward theories that Zuckerberg reflects on the nomination of his candidacy for the presidency of the United States and for this he is working on an image.

The theory was reinforced by the emergence of Zuckerberg’s open religious views, without which no person became an American president , an active charitable activity , cooperation with former presidential campaign managers and a critical attitude toward the current government.

In addition, journalists were apprehensive about the recent receipt of thediploma of honorary doctor of Harvard University by the head of Facebook (he dropped out at Harvard in 2005). Formally, a person without a higher education can become a US president, but the last leader of the country without a diploma  Harry Truman, who left his post in 1953.

From South Carolina to Wisconsin

Mark Zuckerberg says that the purpose of his trip to the US is to see how people actually live, whom Facebook united.

In March, he visited the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, where in 2015, nine people were killed. A month later, Zuckerberg visited Ohio at a rehab meeting of drug addicts using opiates and opioids (in 2015, 33 thousand people died from using them in the US ). He visitedin the Center for Juvenile Affairs in Indiana and criticized the local re-education system. In Alabama, Zuckerberg met with the ship’s crew for catching shrimp. In Mississippi, visited a historic cemetery, in Michigan, he discussed with the Muslims Trump’s law on immigrants, in Texas communicated with the priests, and in Dallas – with the police. In early May, the head of Facebook visited a family farm in Wisconsin: he fed the cows, swept the tractor, played with the newborn kittens and ate dinner with the livestock.

By June, Zuckerberg had visited 15 states out of 30 planned.

Mark Zuckerberg first manages a tractor, Wisconsin, May 2017. Photos from a personal Facebook page
Mark Zuckerberg first manages a tractor, Wisconsin, May 2017. Photos from a personal Facebook page

For safety reasons, Zuckerberg was warned at every place in only a few hours. Together with the head of Facebook travel security and personal photographers. As the New York Times notes , Zuckerberg arrives in those states that have lost an active democratic representative or the attention of journalists focused on the activities of Donald Trump.

The travel of Zuckerberg was criticized by Mashable journalist Luis Matsakis. According to her, the founder of Facebook visits stereotypical tourist places, the problems of which have already been revealed and repeatedly emphasized, and does not seek a new look at the country.

According to the journalist, this route is associated with Zuckerberg’s fear of putting himself under attack, and the possible goal of his journey is to restore Facebook’s reputation after the scandal with the last presidential election.

A map of the marked states where Zuckerberg has already visited. Click to enlarge image
A map of the marked states where Zuckerberg has already visited. Click to enlarge image

Communication with the elections of 2016 and criticism of the government

After the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 election on Facebook, accusations of indirect support for the president collapsed. Allegedly, because of the large number of fake news that issued the social network tape algorithms and its section for popular media materials, the voters formed a false image of the candidates, which influenced Trump’s victory.

For the dissemination of false information, Twitter and Google were also criticized , but the main blow fell precisely on the social network of Zuckerberg. The analysis carried out by BuzzFeed showed that in the last three months of the presidential campaign, fake political news really turned out to be more popular on Facebook than real ones.

Facebook was condemned by politicians, including Barack Obama, and the general discontent with Trump exacerbated the Americans’ attitude to the social network, which allegedly contributed to the Republican’s entry into the White House. Zuckerberg first called the charges false, but then promised to intensify the fight against disinformation.

From left to right: the founder of Amazon, executive director of Alphabet and a member of the Facebook board at a meeting with Mike Pence and Donald Trump. Getty Photos
From left to right: the founder of Amazon, executive director of Alphabet and a member of the Facebook board at a meeting with Mike Pence and Donald Trump. Getty Photos

The last few years, Zuckerberg met regularly with the leaders of various countries. In 2011, he talked with then-US President Barack Obama, flew to Moscow in 2012 to meet with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in 2014, discussed the importance of Facebook with the Prime Minister of India and the President of Mexico, in 2015, he met with the President of Brazil, and in the summer of 2016 he discussed the possibility of returning the social network to China and communicated with the head of the Vatican.

Something changed in December 2016. Then Donald Trump held a conference with representatives of major technology companies, including Google, Tesla, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Basically, the heads of the companies came to the meeting, but member of the board of directors Sheryl Sandberg represented Facebook instead of Zuckerberg.

Journalists did not explain why the head of Facebook did not come to the meeting. And in January 2017, Zuckerberg criticized Trump ‘s decree on immigrants. The same month, he hired two former presidential campaign managers, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The head of the social network explained that they will be engaged in the charity organization Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , founded by the wife of Zuckerberg.

Potential of political career

According to the law, the US president must be at least 35 years old. In November 2020, when the country starts new elections, Zuckerberg will be 36 years old. His current political views are unknown.

Zuckerberg before leaving the Vatican, August 2016. Photos from a personal Facebook page
Zuckerberg before leaving the Vatican, August 2016. Photos from a personal Facebook page

However, Zuckerberg suppressed the assumptions of journalists on January 25, stating that he was not going to be nominated for president. According to the entrepreneur, he is focused on developing the Facebook user community and working in the charity project of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

However, in the future, the founder of Facebook can change the decision. Before the start of the presidential race in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton several times  that she does not plan to participate in the elections. In case Zuckerberg uses similar tactics, Vanity Fair journalist Nick Bilton predicted the main thesis of critics of his presidential campaign – the security of personal data. Mark Zuckerberg owns more than two billion personal data, and all of them can be used to his advantage.

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