Zuckerberg Listens to America (But Isn’t Running for Office)

July 13, 2017 - 3 minutes read

Before he was elected president, Donald Trump was just a businessman (by many accounts, a corrupt and failed businessman) and celebrity with no real experience in the political realm. According to his supporters, what qualified him for office were his willingness to play outside Washington’s established rules and his prodigious deal-making skills — after all, he wrote the book on the “art of the deal.” Now, many in Silicon Valley are looking for an unconventional candidate to go toe-to-toe with Trump in 2020 (assuming he’s still in office by then). If Trump could make it into office with a history of bankruptcy and no substantive new ideas other than bringing vulgarity into the political sphere, then what’s to stop a Silicon Valley titan with actual billions and some real innovative ideas from becoming president? Many in the mobile app development community suspect Mark Zuckerberg wants to be the tech candidate.

Of course, the Facebook founder and CEO denies that he’s running, but it certainly looks like he’s thinking about it. Chicago mobile app developers can’t help but notice his newfound willingness to step into the political arena. In the wake of Trump’s surprise victory, his personal posts to Facebook have taken an increasingly political bent. He has vowed to deal with the fake news epidemic which spreads like wildfire thanks to the platform he invented. Just yesterday, he spoke out against the FCC’s plans to roll back net neutrality regulations, and he has come out in favor of universal basic income, an idea that has gained traction in Silicon Valley as a possible solution to the mass unemployment that’s coming as a result of automation.

But nothing has made him look more like a presidential candidate than his listening tour to the 30 states he’s never visited. A “personal challenge” he made at the start of the year, Zuckerberg’s goal is to “talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future.” In an era where people are beginning to see the disastrous results of living in their “bubbles,” the man behind Facebook is stepping out of his. Of course, he’s being very cautious about it — few details have emerged about his travels, in part because he’s been so private about it, never hyping up a visit in advance, keeping meetings intimate, and asking those he met with to not speak to the press. He does bring a photographer along for those sweet, sweet photo ops and has brought in veteran political operatives to help him coordinate the trip. But despite the optics, he insists he’s not running for president. Yeah right, says the mobile app developer community.

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