Trump addressed the potential presidential run of the Facebook CEO in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“I heard he was going to run for president. That wouldn’t be too frightening, I don’t think,” Trump told “Squawk Box” co-host Joe Kernen. “But he does have that monster behind him,” Trump said, referring to Facebook, which is facing multiple antitrust probes from federal and state investigators.
The possibility of Zuckerberg’s bid for the presidency was first discussed back in 2017 after he hired Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, who advised former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign, for his philanthropic project. He also hired Charles Ommanney, a photographer for both the George W. Bush and Obama presidential campaigns, for his own listening tour across the US. At that time, the Facebook CEO denied that he considered running for the White House.
Asked about Facebook's advertisement policy, including a controversial point which allows politicians to publish false information in advertisements, Trump said that he would “rather [Zuckerberg] just do whatever he's going to do.”
“I’d rather him just do whatever he’s going to do,” Trump told CNBC on Wednesday. “He’s done a hell of a job, and he’s going to do what he has to do.”
Facebook had recently come under public scrutiny for its ad policies, saying that it won’t ban, fact-check or limit how political ads can be targeted to specific groups of people. Instead, Facebook said it will offer users slightly more control over how many political ads they see and make its online library of political ads easier to browse. Responding to critics, Zuckerberg argued earlier this month that “political speech is important” and that Facebook doesn’t want to interfere with it.
“People should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public,” Facebook’s statement on the issue reads.
Other tech companies, such as Twitter and Google, have taken strict stances regarding political advertisement on their platforms: Twitter has banned political ads. In November, it said the ban will include ads that reference a political candidate, party, election or legislation, among other limits, while Google said it would limit audience targeting for election ads to age, gender and the general location at a postal code level. Google and its video-streaming service YouTube also said it would prohibit certain kinds of misrepresentation in ads, such as misinformation about public voting procedures, political candidate eligibility based on age or birthplace, or incorrect claims that a public figure has died.