Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg says he is not running for public office but is making a series of public appearances “to learn about people’s hopes and challenges.”
The co-founder of the world’s biggest social network sought to dampen speculation he is running for president, fueled by his campaign-style appearances around the United States.
“My personal challenge this year is to visit every state I haven’t spent time in before to learn about people’s hopes and challenges, and how they’re thinking about their work and communities,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post late Sunday from Newport, Rhode Island.
“Some of you have asked if this challenge means I’m running for public office. I’m not.”
Zuckerberg said he wants “to get a broader perspective to make sure we’re best serving our community of almost two billion people at Facebook” and to help understand how to get the most from the philanthropy he set up with his wife, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
In recent months, Zuckerberg has been increasingly in the public eye, discussing social and political issues in general as well as the role Facebook plays in the world.
In a February post, Zuckerberg said Facebook can play a role in bringing people together as they face fractious politics and anti-globalization sentiment.
In his message Sunday, Zuckerberg said his public appearances have included meetings with recovering heroin addicts, juvenile detainees and community leaders in disadvantages parts of the country.
His discussions brought him to conclude “that our relationships shape us more than we think” and that social networks, whether online or not, are important.
“This isn’t a scientific study and it requires further research, but I think there’s something to this idea that your relationships shape your path more than we realize,” he wrote.