20 September 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denies having any interest in running for the US presidency, but everything is possible in politics. Photo: Reuters
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denies having any interest in running for the US presidency, but everything is possible in politics. Photo: Reuters

Is Mark Zuckerberg setting his sights on the US presidency?

Some analysts say Donald Trump won the US presidential election because of four factors. He is rich, he is a successful entrepreneur, he is good at using social media, and he knows how to manipulate the media and the public.

If these are Trump’s winning secrets, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is way above Trump on all counts, may stand a good chance of becoming the next president.

Let’s look at these four factors one by one.

In terms of wealth, Zuckerberg has a personal fortune of US$71 billion, making him the world’s fifth richest man. By contrast, Trump is ranked No. 544 with a far smaller net worth of US$3.5 billion.

As regards success in business, Zuckerberg is a self-made billionaire who started his enterprise inside his dorm room at Harvard. Trump has his business empire, but its foundation was built by his father, who was also a real estate developer.

When it comes to social media savvy, the 71-year-old Trump is known for his frequent tweets, which he has been doing throughout the election campaign and after becoming the president. But his efforts in this respect are dwarfed by the achievement of Zuckerberg, who is the founder of the world’s most popular social network, Facebook.

Last but not least, Trump is very good at making news and provoking public opinion with his populist comments. That’s a key reason why he beat Hillary Clinton in last year’s campaign. However, the president’s “populism” has often made him less welcome among mainstream media and the well-educated.

By comparison, Zuckerberg comes from Silicon Valley, a place where universal values are embraced.

Zuckerberg has never been shy about his political views. He upholds such values as freedom, democracy, openness and fairness, and opposes racism and authoritarianism.

And he has the power to promote and spread such values through Facebook, and to gather support for the causes he espouses.

So, is Zuckerberg interested in becoming the next US president? Looks like he is.

The New York Times reported that Zuckerberg has hired the campaign managers and advisers of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In an interview with BuzzFeed in January, Zuckerberg denied having any his interest in running in the 2020 presidential race. But that was in January, and everything could change very quickly in politics.

Zuckerberg is reportedly embarking on a year-long “listening tour”, visiting all the 50 states and meeting with leaders and ordinary people in each of these states.

These are all clues that the Facebook CEO might be setting his sights on the world of politics.

And if Zuckerberg decides to run, it would be interesting to find out whether he will be using Facebook or how he will be using it in his campaign – or in running the country if he wins.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 3

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist