Already at the beginning of the year, UP' Magazine was interested in a series of big maneuvers that were shaking up the Facebook empire and more particularly its young but nonetheless multi-billionaire president, Mark Zuckerberg. There were several signs of his ambition to become the next president of the United States. Signs that have multiplied in recent months. After a real estate tycoon, will America have a social networking tycoon at its head? A ridiculous idea or a terribly worrying one?
Chat's such a fancy idea? Could Mark Zuckerberg, after Trump, be President of the United States? In a world where artificial intelligence is spreading everywhere, where data is the sinews of war, the Facebook boss is no more illegitimate than a "small" real estate billionaire. He already governs a country of more than one and a half billion souls: his social network. Already, he is received as a head of state in every corner of the planet. Already his societal, economic and editorial decisions represent an unprecedented impact and political weight. So Zuck President? Yes, it's possible.
Revolutionizing public policy is an idea that has been on Mark Zuckerberg's mind for some time. Already in 2015, Wikileaks revealed the Facebook boss's political dreams. An email to John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager and former White House chief of staff, requested an interview. The letter, signed by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, No. 2, contained an eloquent passage: "He [Marck Zuckerberg] is especially willing to meet with anyone who can help him understand how to move the curtain on the public policy issues he cares about. He is interested in meeting people who can contribute to his understanding of the political operations of changing public policy to pursue his social goals (such as immigration, education, and research). »
At the beginning of this year, on the occasion of his greetings and the presentation of his "good resolution for 2017", the boss of Facebook wrote that his "challenge" for 2017 will be "to reach out to people in every state in the United States. A resolution that had the appearance of a pre-election campaign. All it took was for him toUSA Today headline: " Is Mark Zuckerberg considering running for the White House? »
It is true that the question deserves to be asked. Mark Zuckerberg is increasingly stepping out of his role as Silicon Valley's big boss. He's finding every opportunity to multiply the political rhetoric. One of the most unexpected was the one he gave at the Harvard graduation last May. He himself did not graduate from the prestigious university, but was nevertheless received there as a prince. His speech This resolutely political approach addresses all the themes that could form the basis of an electoral programme: universal income, health insurance reform, criticism of Trump's anti-immigration policy, the effects of globalisation, etc.
Mark Zuckerberg's speech at Harvard in its entirety
Another sign of Zuckerberg's ambition is this idea to travel all 50 states of the United States to unofficially speak the good word, and officially listen to Americans. A willingness, clearly displayed on his Facebook page dedicated, meet people, see how they live and work. A road trip highly mediatized: no less than eight assistants and photographers to accompany him. And every day, his harvest of pictures: Zuck at the farm, Zuck at the factory, Zuck at school, etc.
When asked about his presidential ambition, Mark Zuckerberg denies it. He has posted on his Facebook page a clarification: " Some of you have asked if this challenge means that I am a candidate for public office. I am not. ». Yet he does the opposite. Thus, to fulfill his destiny, he hires the cream of the crop. spins doctors Americans, stars of the political campaigns: the king of the polls, Joel Benneson, accompanied by his entire team; David Plouffe, Barack Obama's former senior adviser, former chief strategist for Hillary Clinton, the photographer Charles Ommaney, the one who took all the pictures of Bush's and then Obama's campaigns; Jessica Santillo, Barack Obama's former press secretary general ... the list goes on and on.
However, in what is singularly akin to a White House race, there is one small snag. Zuck has always registered as an "atheist" on his Facebook profile. This position is not the most popular one for a (future) American president. That's not the point. Zuckerberg became a believer in the year 2017. He confides: " I was raised Jewish and went through a period where I asked questions, but now I believe that religion is very important. ». And a nice photo with Pope Francis to add a touch to the picture of the perfect future president.
Mark Zuckerberg and Pope Francis in August 2016. (Associated Press)
This path taken by the king of social networks leads him straight to the supreme office. Before Trump, we might have doubted it. How could we? A hooded geek, just post-teen, admittedly multi-billionaire, President of the United States? Americans have gotten us used to their fantasy by electing the unexpected concrete tycoon, king of golf courses and compulsive tweets to their head. So a Zuck would (almost) be the lesser evil.
The Americans could perfectly well choose a great business leader as president. The problem is that the company Mark Zuckerberg runs is not just any company. Facebook is the company that was built on the most gigantic personal data collection project in the history of mankind. A quarter of the humans living on this planet are listed in its databases. The army of engineers led by Zuckerberg has developed an unparalleled system for tracking, analyzing and exploring our every behavior. Every detail is recorded and analyzed, every detail of our habits, what we've bought and where, the images we look at and like, the information we prefer, what we write and share with our loved ones... Not to mention our browsing history, email activity and... the shape of our face. This titanic project was, from the beginning, a response to the desire to "connect the world", to "connect people".
By collecting this mass of data about us, Facebook has become too big. It's unrivalled and, worse, we can no longer avoid it. 44 % of Americans only find out about each other on Facebook. The project of building the largest community of human beings is not only achieved but also perfectly unshakeable.
If Zuck were to become president of the United States, it would mean putting one of the most invasive surveillance and information platforms in the world in the hands of the world's most powerful leader.
As Wired magazine worries." Great media barons have already held high political offices. But a social media baron, if elected president, would be an unparalleled experiment in politics and in the ability to control our perceptions.. ». Zuck's tour of the fifty states can be read in this light: what if this trip answered the logic of data collection and analysis of any political problem? Would this not be the premise of a way to intensify the state's view of people in order to generate 'pragmatic' solutions?
" The idea that someone like Zuckerberg could be elected as the leader of the country - someone who doesn't seem to believe that there are limits to how people can be tracked, catalogued, analyzed and manipulated - is terrifying. "exclaimed an editorialist in the American magazine... The Nation.
In 2020, an election year in the United States, Mark Zuckerberg will just turn 36, the legal age to run for president.