Facebook founder Zuckerberg says he has no plan to run for US president

Mr Mark Zuckerberg said he is focused on building the community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Mr Mark Zuckerberg said he is focused on building the community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday (Jan 24) that he has no plans to run for US president, amid speculation that he could move into politics.

"No," Mr Zuckerberg told BuzzFeed News in response to a question about his intent to run in the election in 2020.

"I'm focused on building our community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative," he said, referring to the corporation he and his wife Priscilla Chan founded to advance human potential and promote equality through major bets on education and science research.

BuzzFeed News also quoted a source close to Mr Zuckerberg as saying the latter had privately denied he had any political ambition.

"There's absolutely no truth to the idea that Mark is running for office and I've heard it directly from him," the source said. "Here's the thing: For Mark, Facebook is global community that already plays this huge part in the lives of billions of people around the world and plays an incredibly important role in shaping the base on the issues that matter."

The source also said Mr Zuckerberg is preparing for a political battle as a private citizen through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

"There is absolutely a possibility that Mark may choose to play a stronger role in the political system and political debates," the source told BuzzFeed News.

He has been "very transparent" in his advocacy for "greater equality and optimising research that find cures for disease and solves the fundamental problems of our time, but I really don't see him stepping away from Facebook," the source said.

The comments come after weeks of speculation sparked by events that seemed to suggest Mr Zuckerberg's interest in politics. His target for this year is to visit every American state by the end of this year and talk to people about how they are living and what they are thinking about the future.

Last Christmas, the 32-year-old posted a cheery holiday message on Facebook. "Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me," he wrote, naming his wife, daughter and dog.

When a netizen asked "aren't you an atheist?", he replied: "No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important".

The Guardian report, citing Pew Research Centre, said being an atheist is one of the biggest liabilities a presidential candidate can have.