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Mark Zuckerberg says he’s not running for public office. What does this mean

As soon as Mark Zuckerberg announced his challenge for 2017 is to go on a tour of the U.S. to try and learn more about people’s hopes and challenges people started wondering if this is some sort of political campaign. While some think he’d make a good, or at least better U.S. President, Facebook’s founder and CEO says he’s not running for public office.

Back in January, Zuckerberg posted on Facebook a new challenge for the year that just started. After running 365 miles, learning Mandarin and building an AI system for his home, the 34-year-old billionaire announced his personal challenge was ‘to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year.’

Officially not running for office

More recently, Mark Zuckerberg posted a few of his thoughts after his early trips and said his ‘biggest takeaway so far is that our relationships shape us more than we think.’ Zuckerberg then shared three stories from Ohio, where he sat down with recovering heroin addicts, Indiana, where he visited a juvenile justice center, and ‘depressed areas in the south’ where he talked to people about seeking better opportunities elsewhere.


As he talked about these issues, Zukerberg wanted to answer a question that has been on many Americans’ lips: is he running for President?

“Some of you have asked if this challenge means I’m running for public office. I’m not. I’m doing it to get a broader perspective to make sure we’re best serving our community of almost 2 billion people at Facebook and doing the best work to promote equal opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,” Facebook’s founder said.

Involved in politics and social issues

While Zuckerberg never revealed his own political views – some say he’s a conservative, others consider him liberal – he did speak out on political and social matters. One of the most recent occasions was when President Donald Trump issued an executive order on immigration.

“Like many of you, I’m concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump. My great grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland. Priscilla’s parents were refugees from China and Vietnam. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that. We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat. We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That’s who we are. Had we turned away refugees a few decades ago, Priscilla’s family wouldn’t be here today,” Zuckerberg posted on Facebook in January.

Back in 2016, Zuckerberg also took action regarding the ‘Black Lives Matter’ activist movement. In a leaked memo, Facebook’s CEO criticised employees who had crossed out the handwritten phrase, noting that he would now consider this overwriting practice not only disrespectful, but “malicious as well.” Facebook employees had crossed out handwritten “Black Lives Matter” phrases on the company walls and had written “All Lives Matter” in their place.

In the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks and the 2015 San Bernardino attack, Mark Zuckerberg also posted a message saying he adds his voice ‘in support of Muslims in our community and around the world.’

More power at Facebook than in the White House

Holding the office of President of the United States is often regarded as being the ‘most powerful man in the world,’ but as CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is not far behind. In December 2016, Zuckerberg was ranked 10th on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People. With a net worth estimated to be US$58.6 billion as of March 2017, Zuckerberg is ranked as the fifth richest person in the world.


So would him running for office in the U.S. make him even more powerful? While it might be the case, his influence is also direct and overwhelming on almost 2 billion people active on Facebook. The social network undoubtedly changes lives all over the world and holding Facebook’s reins gives the 34-year-old amazing power over those lives.

One example of how Zuckerberg intends to touch these lives is hidden in plain sight in his latest message. As he underlined the importance of relationships and how they shape a person’s life, Zuckerberg shared his plan to shape these relationships. Talking about the stories he mentioned in his post, Facebook’s CEO noted that he’s seen ‘lots of more stories like the three above that point to your friends and family as the most powerful force in shaping your path.’

“This is an area where Facebook can make a difference. In many ways, relationships are the most important things in our lives — whether we’re trying to form healthy habits, stay out of trouble, or find better opportunities. Facebook has been focused on helping you connect with people you already know. We’ve built AI systems to recommend “People You May Know”. But it might be just as important to also connect you with people you should know — mentors and people outside your circle who care about you and can provide a new source of support and inspiration,” Zuckerberg wrote.

John Beckett