Trump at a campaign rally in Syracuse, N.Y., on Saturday. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
Donald Trump did something unusual when he was asked about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s recent criticism of his controversial plan to build a wall along the U.S. southern border — he didn’t fire back.
“Well, I never met him, I never spoke to him, and he never mentioned me by name,” Trump said in a phone interview with “Fox & Friends” on Saturday. “So perhaps he’s talking about somebody else.”
Not likely. Zuckerberg kicked off the social network’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco on Thursday with an uncharacteristically political speech that seemed to take dead aim at the Republican frontrunner.
“As I look around and I travel around the world, I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward, against this idea of a connected world and a global community,” Zuckerberg said. “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others.’”
The billionaire real estate mogul, though, was unmoved by the billionaire tech entrepreneur.
“We do have to have a wall, we need security, we need borders,” Trump said. “And if we don’t have borders, we don’t have a country.”
But the former “Celebrity Apprentice” host was not ready to slam one of his most effective campaign messaging platforms, either.
“I think Facebook is good, and I can’t imagine them doing anything,” Trump said. “I’m one of their great stars.”
Indeed, Trump’s presidential bid has been propelled, in part, by his outsize presence on social media. He has more than 7.6 million followers on Twitter and just over 7 million on Facebook. (There’s even a website that allows Facebook users to quickly check which of their friends “like” Trump.)
On Friday, Gizmodo published an image of an internal poll that showed that Facebook employees had voted last month to ask Zuckerberg whether the company had a “responsibility” to “prevent President Trump in 2017.”
Following Gizmodo’s report, the company worked quickly to avoid any appearance of electioneering.
“We encourage any and all candidates, groups, and voters to use our platform to share their views on the election and debate the issues,” Facebook said in a statement. “We as a company are neutral — we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.”