Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social media giant Facebook, is using his platform — and his power — to speak out about political issues. On his list? Immigration reform, the Syrian refugee crisis, and solidarity with the Muslim community. Most recently, Zuckerberg took a shot at GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
Zuckerberg’s comments about Trump in his opening speech at the company’s developer conference last week criticized the “fearful voices calling for building walls,” The Hill reported.
Although he doesn’t make these comments often, the 31-year-old has made it a habit to express his views come debate days.
With over 1 billion daily active users, and Zuckerberg’s prominence in the tech world, Facebook has a big influence over public opinion. Candidates, their campaigns, and their supporters flood the site with articles, posts, and opinions on every issue and every scandal. This makes Facebook a very powerful and influential platform.
“It is no surprise that tech CEOs are trying to use their platform to influence political change, and that they may be quite trusted, given the low amount of trust that people feel toward politicians as a broader group,” said Margie Omero, who leads research at the firm Purple Strategies. “That said, people have more interaction with the product than they do with the CEO.”
Facebook has publicly declared it will never use its product to influence how people on the platform vote. However, a spokeswoman said Zuckerberg will not stop speaking out on public policy, The Hill reported.
“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and bring people together — Mark will continue to advocate for public policies to the extent that it helps advance our mission or the mission of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,” a Facebook spokeswoman said, referring to the charitable company led by the company’s founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
Although Zuckerberg and Facebook claim not to want to change users’ opinions, that hasn’t stopped the founder from speaking out on a number of hotly debated topics. These include Trump and his policies.
Zuckerberg shared a post assuring the Muslim community it was “always welcome” on Facebook.
In December, Zuckerberg shared a post assuring the Muslim community that it was “always welcome” on Facebook. His words came a day after Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. That post was liked 1.5 million times, according to The Hill.
Zuckerberg hasn’t stopped at talking. In 2013, he helped found an advocacy group, FWD.us, which pushes for immigration reform. He also used his 2013 visit to Washington, D.C. as an opportunity to lobby on the issue.
“I don’t pretend that our press releases get the same attention as when Mark speaks out on this issue by any means,” FWD.us president Todd Schulte said, adding he is “thankful and proud” to have a founder so dedicated to immigration reform.
Zuckerberg has also gone so far as to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
This isn’t the first time he’s talked about “building walls,” either: “As I travel around the world, I see many nations turning inwards. I hear growing voices for building walls and distancing people labeled as ‘other,'” Zuckerberg said last month.
Zuckerberg and Facebook may say they don’t want to influence voters; yet advocates who oppose Trump applauded Zuckerberg’s words.
Additionally, they want Facebook to publicly vow it will not participate in the Republican convention this year, according to The Hill.
“With comments like those made by Mark Zuckerberg, it is our hope that he and others will show the same level of integrity when it comes to rejecting the violent rhetoric and policies being espoused by Donald Trump by refusing to invest in the RNC Convention,” said Rashad Robinson, who leads ColorOfChange, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy group.
Facebook declined to respond to that question.
Aside from his public comments, Zuckerberg has donated millions to political causes over the years and Facebook has become a powerful force in Washington, D.C.