Today, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg interviewed George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States.
Bush missed few opportunities to plug his new book in the first half of the discussion or to poke some fun at Zuckerberg. Promoting for the book to be expected, given that Facebook’s headquarters were the major stop on the California leg of his “Decision Points” book tour. Less expected was the moment when the two men bumped fists over Zuckerberg’s success without graduating from college.
Bush and Zuckerberg also talked about how he’s adopted technology since leading the Oval Office. After he left D.C., “I became a BlackBerry person,” said Bush. “Now I’m an iPad person. And I use the Facebook.” (According to CNN, Bush’s favorite iPad app is Scrabble.)
Like Zadie Smith, who wrote about her Facebook experience in “Generation Why,” Bush doesn’t use Facebook in the same way as the average citizen. He’s a public figure, and when he says he has “over 600,000 friends on my Facebook page,” it means that many accounts have “Liked” his account, not that he’s radically exceeded the limits of the social networking giant’s social graph. Likes and friends are not at all the same thing. For the sake of reference, President Barack Obama has some 16,891,000 “Likes” on Facebook, very few of whom are likely his “friends” in any real sense.
Bush and Zuckerberg reflected upon a more serious use of social networking and online platforms as well. “One way we’re trying to advance freedom is by using the Internet,” said Bush, citing the work of Oscar Morales and his One Million Voices against FARC.
In a rare moment of praise for the Obama administration, Bush also said that “I think they’ve handled Afghanistan well.”
He reflected on the dynamics within China, the rising power in the East, connecting its voracious consumption of natural resources, connecting it to keeping internal order. “To create 25 million new jobs a year, you have to have a lot of natural resources,” he said.
Zuckerberg asked the question of the moment near the end of the hour-long interview: What is the impact of Wikileaks?
“I think it’s going to be hard, in some cases, to earn the trust of foreign leaders,” said Bush.