The question is almost a year old, and not currently being asked in quite the feverish way it was over the summer. But let’s try it again: could Mark Zuckerberg run for US president? The founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook began 2017 by announcing his latest “challenge”: a pledge to visit the 30 US states he had never spent time in before, which has now been achieved. Along the way, he has made a point of meeting Trump voters, sampling the mood in post-industrial backwaters, and seeing at first hand evidence of his country’s opioid crisis. He now talks about the importance of community, and the need for his generation to find a collective sense of purpose, rather suggesting the leading actor in a school play about Bobby Kennedy.
“Some of you have asked if this challenge means I’m running for public office,” he wrote back in May. The previous month, he had dinner with a Trump-supporting family in Newton Falls, Ohio, who didn’t seem to mind that he brought his own food and a retinue of aides, and were reportedly told: “If there are any news reporters that call you, just make sure you tell them I’m not running for president.” There again, we also know that close associates have spoken to him about “the gov’t service thing” and how his embrace of it might play with Facebook’s shareholders; that his charity has hired a handful of Washington insiders, including David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager; and that he has taken the strange step of publicly renouncing his atheism.