The World is not Enough: Mark Zuckerberg’s political ambitions

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Mark Zuckerberg has announced his new year's resolution, and it sounds suspiciously like a full-scale, baby-kissing political tour of duty.

The Facebook CEO has pledged to visit every state of America and to hear more 'voices' in order to "make the most positive impact as the world enters an important new period".

Still not convinced? There's more. Zuck also talks about the impacts of technology and globalization – the benefits they have brought and the divisions they have created. "We need to find a way to change the game so it works for everyone".

He's right. Technological and robotic innovations may mean increased productivity, but they are likely to cause mass unemployment, particularly throughout the central states of America. Zuckerberg probably feels that, as a politician, he would be in a position to redress the balance.

It could happen

The idea of a successful businessman serving in political office seemed unlikely until 2016. Now Zuckerberg's status as the world's 5th richest individual makes America's current president-elect look cheap and nasty. He already wields astonishing power as the 'leader' (his word) of the most influential commercial enterprise ever created, a network that owns the personal data of 1.8 billion people and counting.

Zuckerberg's politics are uncertain: he has openly committed to neither political party, although he has expressed support for gay rights, immigration reform and the fight against climate change.

The model of Zuckerberg's rise from dorm room geek to head technocrat has brought us a new paradigm – a modern-day version of the American dream that eschews the gilded toilets of conspicuous consumption and focusses on self-improvement and social obligation.

Should we worry?

With Facebook's growing domination of the media landscape and recent controversies surrounding the role fake news played in the US election, it's no wonder Zuck feels a crushing sense of responsibility.

We may approve of his idealism, but the issue of a figure of his influence and power representing the public in government is one that should give us all pause for thought.

The disconcerting level of power wielded by the Silicon Valley technocracy is a question that troubles many experts. Journalist David Kirkpatrick probed Zuckerberg in an interview about what he calls the "urgent accountability gap between what technology companies do and what the public is allowed to know".

For all his talk of 'listening to what people want' and making the world more 'open and connected', the fact remains that the only check and balance on what Facebook can do is Zuckerberg himself.

This may not bother him, but it makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

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