What the Zuck! Mark Zuckerberg 2020???

Could Mark Zuckerberg really be running for President as the second coming of Bernie Sanders?

That’s the rumor swirling as the Founder of Facebook has made some interesting moves over the last couple months.  He recently hired Joel Benenson, who was Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s former pollster, as a consultant for the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation – the foundation controlled by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.  This move follows the hiring of David Plouffe back in January to advise the foundation.  Plouffe is best known as Obama’s 2008 campaign manager.  Plouffe and Benenson are two heavyweight Democrat strategists, and they don’t come cheap.  In addition, the billionaire also hired Amy Dudley, the former communications adviser to former Vice-Presidential nominee Tim Kaine.  Zuckerberg has claimed these hires are merely for research and development of policies for his foundation.

While he is only 33, Zuckerberg has stirred up speculation of Presidential ambitions, especially through his 50 state tour of technological entrepreneurship.   This road trip has included hanging out at truck stops in Iowa, touring a Ford assembly plant in Michigan, and visiting Dayton, Ohio.  Not exactly places that you’d expect an internet mogul to be researching for the next great technological advance.  These locations all do share one thing in common though – these states gave Trump his victory over Hillary Clinton.  Iowa also just happens to be the first state to vote during the primary.

So far, the Facebook CEO has denied any interest in running for President.

“Some of you have asked if this challenge means I’m running for public office,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page last May. “I’m not.”

Uh, huh.  I’m sure he’d much rather spend his free time in Detroit rather than sleeping in his giant mansions or swimming in his private pools.  Or as our own, Josh Hammer said:

Worth $45 billion, Zuckerberg would not lack resources to mount a campaign.  But the big unknown is what kind of candidate he would be.  By that I mean, can he connect with voters?  Does he have a message that resonates?  Can voters relate to a 30-something Harvard drop-out, who seemingly lucked into $45 billion?

Obama and Trump both had the ability to connect with a large swath of the electorate.  Does Zuckerberg have that?  No one knows yet.

One thing we do know is that he’d likely be the second coming of Bernie Sanders if his recent economic remarks are any indication.  During his commencement speech at Harvard this spring, he stated his support for a Universal Basic Income.

What is that, you ask?  It means he wants the government to pay everyone a minimum wage no matter what – whether you get off the couch or not.  Basically, it’s a guaranteed welfare check to everybody.  He thinks this is the way to give people free time to innovate the next BIG idea.  Yeah, right.  More like incentivize laziness.  And where’s the “free” money going to come from?

Venezuela’s been trying this strategy.  Look how well that’s doing!

You may know this idea by its more common name – Communism.

I can already see Zuckerberg’s potential 2020 campaign slogans:

Bernie Sanders 2.0 2.0

Or how about:

From Each According To His Ability, To Each According To His Needs – Karl Marx Mark Zuckerberg

With an insane policy like this, I would like to dismiss his potential political future, but Democrats have proven the electoral success of promising people free stuff.  And it doesn’t come any bigger than promising a free paycheck to stay home and do nothing.  People WILL show up to vote for that.  The only question is how many.

There is already speculation that Facebook’s massive storehouse of personal information could be the ultimate Get-Out-The-Vote database.  Steve Deace of Conservative Review explained it well:

There’s no question Zuckerberg would start with a huge advantage – access to the likes and interests of most registered voters.  Most campaigns spend millions to acquire a fraction of this kind of information.

Ultimately, a database is still only a tool though.  Its real purpose is to make voter contacts and generate votes.  You need campaign staff and volunteers to do that.  On-the-ground organization targets voters through phone banks, door knocking, and literature drops at people’s doors.  Personal interaction is how you turn a database into votes.  It’s more than just Facebook ads.

That’s the value of hiring David Plouffe and Joel Benenson.  They know how to build and execute a GOTV operation with a database like this.  It would be extremely powerful in their hands.

This database would not be a magic bullet though.  There are limitations to what it can accomplish.  Ted Cruz had a WAY better database and GOTV effort than anyone else running in 2016.  It helped get him much further than anyone anticipated, but it still wasn’t enough.

Databases can make the difference in a very tight race, but they don’t overcome big margins.  Zuckerberg first needs to generate enthusiasm and interest in his candidacy before the database can come into play.  No one knows if he will be able to do that yet.  Only time will tell.  This all assumes he runs.  We are still 2 years away from the start of the 2020 primaries, which is an eternity in politics.

As things develop, we’ll have a better sense of what the future holds.  For now, we have to wait and see.



Zuckerberg Says New Facebook Will Help Build Common Ground

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled his company’s new mission: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

This was in line with Facebook’s first-ever Community Summit in Chicago, IL. During his talk, Zuckerberg highlighted the need to build community. Here’s an excerpt from his talk:

Right now, I think the most important thing we can do is bring people closer together. It’s so important that we’re going to change Facebook’s whole mission to take this on.
For the past decade, we’ve focused on making the world more open and connected. We’re not done with that. But I used to think that if we just gave people a voice and helped them connect, that would make the world better by itself. In many ways it has. But our society is still divided. Now I believe we have a responsibility to do even more. It’s not enough to simply connect the world, we must also work to bring the world closer together.
We need to give people a voice to get a diversity of opinions out there, but we also need to build enough common ground so we can all make progress together. We need to stay connected with people we already know and care about, but we also need to meet new people with new perspectives. We need support from family and friends, but we also need to build communities to support us as well.

What will facilitate these important discussions? Facebook Groups, Zuckerberg said to CNN Tech’s Laurie Segall.

Zuckerberg also told Segall, “A lot of what we can do is to help create a more civil and productive debate on some of the bigger issues as well.” This is a large departure from making family and friend posts the dominant theme on Facebook.

This goes along the lines of a letter he authored earlier this year to make Facebook more open to diverse opinions — conservative ones included.

With respect to free speech, Zuckerberg said this:

“An important aspect of freedom of speech is that you need to be able to get pretty close to offensive,” said Zuckerberg. Disagreeable content is allowed, “as long as it’s not hate speech or way over the line,” he added.

This is Zuckerberg’s first major media appearance since 2012. The Facebook CEO was notably absent from a tech meeting with President Trump earlier this citing a “scheduling conflict.”

Zuckerberg certainly has his obtuse social justice opinions, but as the leader of the largest social media platform out there–with 1.9 billion users and counting–he recognizes his company’s responsibility to facilitate discussion and meaningful conversations.

Zuckerberg at Harvard: Successes Come From Having Freedom to Fail

Facebook’s founder/CEO and one-time Ivy League student Mark Zuckerberg delivered the 366th Harvard commencement speech at his alma mater today. Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room there in 2004, but later suspended his studies in 2005 to focus entirely on his company. Zuckerberg was also awarded an honorary degree from Harvard today.

Here’s the full text of his speech. His speech also coincides with a recent news story of black Harvard students holding their own graduation ceremony, though many have viewed it as self-segregation.

Here’s Harvard reasoning for selecting Zuckerberg as commencement speaker:

“Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership has profoundly altered the nature of social engagement worldwide. Few inventions in modern times can rival Facebook in its far-reaching impact on how people around the globe interact with one another,” said Harvard President Drew Faust in a university press release. “And few individuals can rival Mark Zuckerberg in his drive to change our world through the innovative use of technology, as well as his commitment to advance science, enhance education, and expand opportunity through the pursuit of philanthropy.”

His full speech, which was broadcasted live on Facebook, can be found here. His talk begins at the 1 hour, 38 minute mark:

Zuckerberg’s talk was prefaced by Harvard President Drew Faust, the 28th president of Harvard University and the Lincoln Professor of History in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“We must always be ready to be wrong,” said President Drew Faust. “We must work to ensure that universities do not become bubbles isolated from the concerns and discourse of the society that surrounds them.”

During his talk to new Harvard graduates, Zuckerberg stressed the importance of Harvard graduates finding purpose in their lives.

“I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough,” he said. “Purpose is that feeling that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Purpose is what creates true happiness.”

He cited the advent of automation causing distress and pain for many Americans, and how people feel disconnected in an ever-connected world.  The casual observer can tell that Zuckerberg’s travels across the country have had an insurmountable effect on him. He stressed how meeting with and empathizing with different people can inspire people to “create a renewed sense of purpose.”

“It’s not enough to have that purpose yourself,” he said. “You have to create that sense of purpose for others.”

He broke his talk down into three main points on how Harvard students could promote purpose through big meaningful projects, redefining equality, and building community.

Big meaningful projects:

Zuckerberg’s first point encouraged graduates to find purpose to create big meaningful projects. He cited the construction of the Hoover Dam and the Moon Landing as accomplishments to model purpose after.

“Now it’s our generation’s turn to do great things,” said Facebook’s CEO and founder. “Ideas don’t come out fully formed.”

Zuckerberg ragged on the film industry for getting innovation wrong, citing that ideas take time to germinate and grow–how the idea of a single “Eureka!” moment grossly mischaracterizes innovation in the modern day.

“It’s good to be idealistic, but be prepared to be misunderstood, ” he added.

The speech then turned a bit more political, especially along the lines of combating climate change. However, I appreciated the point he made about new innovations for cures for cancer needing to be discovered and funded to put an end to horrible diseases. I think everyone regardless of political beliefs can agree with this point–especially if private enterprise is the financial catalyst behind this innovation.

Zuckerberg said in order to “create progress,” people must “create purpose.

Redefining equality

The second point of Zuckerberg’s talk focused on the idea of redefining equality. At first, I thought he would go full social justice warrior here, but he said some rather enlightening things. The following quote of his stood out to me the most:

“Our culture of entrepreneurship is how to create so much progress,” Zuckerberg said. “The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.”

Having the freedom to fail…he sounds like a fan of free enterprise! (He very well should be, despite some of his associations with overly left-leaning political groups.)

The 33-year-old billionaire added that in order to be successful, you must have a good idea and get lucky. No mention of success being guaranteed or handed to you? How refreshing!

His next point, however, lost me.

“Every generation expands its generation of equality,” said Zuckerberg. “Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract.”

Citing FDR’s New Deal and other lefty social programs, Zuckerberg proposed that society start measuring progress not just by GDP, but by the role an individual plays in society. It seemed like he was sounding off on a political platform for a prospective 2020 run–hinting at support from universal basic income, affordable childcare, and expanded educational opportunities.

But then he got back on script when he uttered, “Freedom to pursue purpose shouldn’t be free.” He added that Millennials should not only donate to charity but also give time to help people pursue their purpose in life. (Good!) He said creating the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will create more equal opportunities, which is far preferable to government-sanctioned equality.

Building community

Mark Zuckerberg’s third and final call-to-action for Harvard graduates is to build community–especially global connections.

He said it’s imperative to create “purpose for everyone…in the world” citing our more interconnected world.  Action “starts in local communities,” Zuckerberg added.

“You are graduating into a world that needs purpose.”

Zuckerberg ended his speech with a Jewish prayer–which was quite unexpected, though he has abandoned atheism in recent years.

I would say that Zuckerberg has mellowed and matured over the last decade. Indeed, his company hasn’t been without controversy as we know. But any casual observer can see that he’s been making an effort to have Facebook cater to all viewpoints, perspectives, and people.

Earlier in the year, Zuckerberg pledged to visit all 50 states to meet everyday Americans. Some say this challenge to meet new people is indicative of a launch for a 2020 bid for president. However, I think he’s genuinely interested in making Facebook work for all users here in the U.S. and across the globe:

My personal challenge for 2017 is to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year. I’ve spent significant time in many states already, so I’ll need to travel to about 30 states this year to complete this challenge.

In October 2016, Zuckerberg took it to Facebook Live to announce a newfound appreciation for hunting.

“Things taste better when you make them yourself,” he said. “And they taste doubly better when you’ve hunted the animal yourself.” In 2011, he apparently pledged to only eat meat he kills or harvests. Below is the full live broadcast:

And perhaps his most interesting undertaking was returning to religion after dabbling in atheism.

While there were some mention of social justice platitudes–climate change, undocumented immigrants, etc.–dominating his speech, Zuckerberg wasn’t hostile to conservatives. His speech contained some good points we can all take to heart–especially the part about forging real connections in a disconnected world and making great change locally. (The old adage goes, all politics is local.) And I especially appreciated the part about him saying success comes from having the freedom to fail. How many liberal Silicon Valley executives admit to this? In fact, he didn’t say the government should come in and fix problems–whether failures or not. He encouraged people in their communities to make change. These are good baby steps; now to get him to open his mind to other things…That may take some time.

Facebook is the leading social media platform out there, with 1.94 billion monthly users (as of March 2017) and 1.15 billion mobile daily active users (as of December 2016). Zuckerberg has played a role in our daily lives, however big or small, with giving us Facebook. Let’s hope more Silicon Valley leaders take a page from the Zuckerberg playbook and try to relate better with us.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: California Has Too Much Influence Over Local Values

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently made an interesting observation that will have many people thinking: California shouldn’t determine or define local values. Touching upon his February 2017 Founder’s letter “Building Global Community, ” Zuckerberg said his vision for the platform should be more open-minded, transparent, and multifarious. In an interview with Fast Company, he said the following:

We have come to this realization that a bunch of people sitting in a room in California is not going to be the best way to reflect all the local values that people have around the world. So we need to evolve the systems for collective decision making. It’s an interesting problem. There are certainly going to be a lot more global infrastructure and global enterprises going forward, there just hasn’t been anything at this scale yet.

California–especially Silicon Valley–shouldn’t sway every thing? Imagine that? (I say this as a California native who spent 21+ years growing up and living in the Golden State.) Zuckerberg is right: the incubator for social justice shouldn’t be determining affairs for the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world. Which is why so many people in Flyover Country rejected Hillary Clinton and voted for Donald Trump in November.

In the Fast Company profile, Zuckerberg also touched upon free speech and click bait –which is well worth the read:

I still believe more strongly than ever that giving the most voice to the most people will be this positive force in society. But the thing is, it’s a work in progress. We talk about wanting to give everyone a voice, but then most people in the world don’t have access to the internet. So if you don’t have the tools to actually share your ideas with everyone, that’s not going to get you very far. We talk about giving people free speech but if they don’t actually, even in a country like the U.S., have the tools to be able to capture a video and share that easily, then there are limits in practice to what you can do. I just view this as a continual thing that every day we can come in and push the line further back on how many people have a voice and how much voice each person has, and we’re going to keep pushing on all of that. It just is this constant work. And at each point, you uncover new issues that you need to solve to get to the next level. Some people will say, oh you tolerate those issues. But the simpler explanation is that the community is evolving. We build new things, that surfaces new issues, we then go deal with those issues, and we keep going. Go back a few years, for example, and we were getting a lot of complaints about click bait. No one wants click bait. But our algorithms at that time were not specifically trained to be able to detect what click bait was. The key was to make tools so the community could tell us what was click bait, and we could factor that into the product. Now it’s not gone a hundred percent but it’s a much smaller problem than it used to be. Today, whether it’s information diversity or misinformation or building common ground, these are the next things that need to get worked on.

Facebook has received criticism for selective bias and targeting of conservatives and Republicans–a claim it’s working on remedying. Yes, there’s bias at times–but that shouldn’t deter conservatives from having an active presence there. The Resurgent’s very own Erick Erickson believes Facebook is a powerful tool our side should be using. (I couldn’t agree more!) Here’s an excerpt from Erick’s May 2016 post on the subject of Facebook’s Conservative Summit from last year:

I’m glad Facebook reached out. I’m glad Mark Zuckerberg was willing to give us face time. He did not have to. Hell, based on the complaints, he could have merely suppressed the story and few would have ever even known.

Instead, he brings in a bunch of conservatives and a few of them decide they have to grandstand while others even go out of their way to say they won’t go to the meeting and they won’t be pawns and Facebook needs to start spreading the wealth around to have a meaningful conversation. Like hell they do. No conservative should make affirmative action and shakedown demands on a private company. That is essentially what some have tried to do.

Although social media is heavily dominated by the Left and social justice platitudes, Zuckerberg, for example, believes every voice should have a say on his platform–including conservatives and Republicans voices. If we want our values to spread far and wide, we need to step outside our echo chamber and engage intelligently with others. Social media helps us bridge that gap!

Conservatives shouldn’t be afraid to have a presence on any of the popular social media platforms–whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s good to see Zuckerberg recognizing the importance of social media hubs stepping outside of the Silicon Valley Bubble. What say you?

Facebook, Free Speech and the Globalization Problem

Everybody talks about changing the world, but few people ever get a chance to actually do it.  Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg realizes this, and seems intent on making sure that he doesn’t miss his opportunity.  A lot of people might say that Zuckerberg has already done that, creating a social media platform that has literally connected billions of people across the planet and forever altered the way we consume and share information.  In an interview with Fast Company, however, he insists that Facebook is still very much a work in progress, and that there is still much left to be done.

Chief among those tasks is solving the problems that inevitably arise when technology moves faster than the ability of human social structures to keep up.  Back in the old days, when communication was far more interpersonal, it was a lot easier to avoid friction over differing views because people usually tried to keep the conversation polite by not talking about sore subjects.  People also tended to congregate in tighter-knit communities that shared the same values, which further kept a lid on cultural and political clashes.  But these days, your Facebook feed can easily be filled with all kinds of things you’d rather not see–and some things that will make your blood boil.  About this, Zuckerberg is remarkably candid, saying:

We know that people in the community want real information. Whenever we give them tools to get access to higher quality content, they’ll always go for that. But at the same time, we also believe in freedom of speech. People should have the ability to say what they think, even if someone else disagrees with that. And freedom of speech is a funny thing because people always want freedom of speech unless people disagree with them.

As somebody who has lost Facebook friends–and the occasional real friend–over a debate that erupted after some political post, I can personally attest that this is a very real problem.  It used to be that people who didn’t see each other too often only got that heated after a few drinks at the occasional holiday get-together.  With Facebook, you can have those kinds of fights every day–plus there’s something about dishing on a computer keyboard that makes people far more vicious than they would ever be in person.

And this is where the irony comes in.  Because of this rancor, a lot of Facebook users have cut themselves off from anything and anyone that might offend them, basically retreating into social media bubbles where everyone shares the same values and a dissenting opinion never rears its ugly head.  Perhaps it’s just human nature, but it seems we can’t avoid tribalism even on a digital landscape.

Zuckerberg seems to recognize this problem, and has ideas on how to address this kind of culture clash:

One of the things that we have struggled with recently is how do we have a set of community standards that can apply across a community of almost two billion people… The question is, in a larger community, how do you build mechanisms so that the community can decide for itself and individuals can decide for themselves where they want the lines to be? This is a tricky part of running this company…  We have come to this realization that a bunch of people sitting in a room in California is not going to be the best way to reflect all the local values that people have around the world. So we need to evolve the systems for collective decision making. It’s an interesting problem. There are certainly going to be a lot more global infrastructure and global enterprises going forward, there just hasn’t been anything at this scale yet.

Interestingly, in a way Zuckerberg has made an argument for federalism here–that a community is far better poised to make decisions for itself, rather than having a larger authority imposing a one-size-fits-all solution.  On the other hand, he also seems to be making the argument that it will probably be necessary to wall certain communities off from others, because their standards and beliefs are just too different to be compatible with one another.  Granted, he’s talking about the digital world here–but one could just as easily find a corollary in the real world, particularly in Europe where the refugee crisis is in the process of radically transforming the culture there.

Zuckerberg also addresses the issue of globalization, acknowledging that while there have been tremendous benefits from the free flow of goods and information, they have not come without a price:

A lot of the current discussion and anti-globalization movement is because for many years and decades, people only talked about the good of connecting the world and didn’t acknowledge that some people would get left behind. I think it is this massively positive thing over all, but it may have been oversold. Which doesn’t mean it’s bad—it can still be massively positive—but I think that you need to acknowledge the issues and work through them so it works for everyone.

It’s a pretty realistic assessment of where we are, and one of the few times I’ve heard the CEO of a major company talking about the downside of a global economy.  Whether Donald Trump’s trade policies will solve the problem remains to be seen–but given that a retreat from globalization was a winning theme of his campaign, and given the success of Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, there’s no doubt a lot of voters share the same concerns.

It’ll be interesting to see what Zuckerberg and Facebook have planned.