When we look back in years to come, it is almost inevitable that Mark Zuckerberg will be one the most influential characters of this century. But will this be because of his mastery of the global technology industry, or will it be down to his growing influence in politics? From recent reports, it sounds like the jury is still out on the latter, but as his career as a political activist is still in its infancy; it's probably too early to call.
When it comes to politics, what can Zuckerberg bring to the party, and why does he want to get involved in this often-dirty game?
The Mystery of Zuckerberg's Political Views
There's always been an air of mystery about Mark Zuckerberg's political standpoint in terms of the big question - is he a Democrat or a Republican? Zuckerberg seems to prefer not to dilute his opinions down to this level, and has seemingly taken a cross party position in terms of his courtship of key political influences.
In 2011, Zuckerberg dined with President Obama and also hosted him at a subsequent meeting at Facebook's offices. Earlier this year however, he fronted (and backed!) a fundraiser for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a likely Republican contender for the 2016 Presidential race.
So, is it a case of backing two horses, or is it that Zuckerberg is more interested in specific policy issues, and not party politics? The origins of his new foray into this area would suggest that he does indeed care about achieving consensus on a number of key issues.
Fwd.us Moves Forward
This past April saw the birth of Zuckerberg's new political baby - Fwd.us. Pronounced, 'Forward us,' the group focuses on immigration policy, education and investment in scientific research.
On immigration, Zuckerberg, has stated:
"...comprehensive immigration reform that begins with effective border security, allows a path to citizenship and lets us attract the most talented and hardest-working people, no matter where they were born."
Higher standards in education are another demand of the Fwd.us group. Arguing that stronger foundations in science, technology, engineering and math are essential for the growth of the knowledge economy is something which has resonated with many businesses and families.
Fwd.us has also called for greater investment in scientific research to support innovation and technological developments and for green initiatives such as recycling - much needed in the business and industry sector.
So far it could be said that the fruits of Zuckerberg's labours have resembled the proverbial curate's egg - good in parts. In June this year, the US Senate did vote to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Zuckerberg highlighted this positive development on his Facebook page (pretty apt) and thanked the senators for doing the courageous and right thing.
It hasn't all been plain sailing, though. As part of the 'quid pro quo' to prod some of those brave senators into voting, two separate Fwd.us funded groups (one on each side of the political divide) produced television ads supporting controversial fuel projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in America's Arctic. The backlash has been considerable, with previous Fwd.us supporters who are against drilling, those interested in finding clean energy and green resources to reduce technology waste, swiftly moving to 'unfriend' the group. Zuckerberg's green initiatives clearly are misaligned with the support of drilling in the Artic.
Perhaps most embarrassing was the rebuttal of the Sierra Club, America's largest grassroots environmental organization, which made its position on the matter crystal clear. Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director said: "The way to achieve reform isn't by pushing dirty fuel schemes that threaten our future and our families. Mark Zuckerberg has made comments in the past recognizing that we need to pursue a clean energy future, and there is no reason he needs to trade those principles for a few political points."
Despite Setbacks, The Future Marches Onward
Although Zuckerberg may have had his fingers slightly singed from this episode, it's unlikely that someone with his resilience will give up at the first sign of trouble. And just like on Facebook, he still has plenty of friends, with backers at the upper echelons of Google, Yahoo and Netflix to name but a few.
And Fwd.us is sticking to its dualistic approach despite the setback. The organization argues that backing two separate campaign groups, one Republican and one Democratic, enables them to reach the widest audiences with information on their particular policy issues.
Lobbying work continues throughout the summer, with a major focus on the immigration question. With a successful and influential strategist like Zuckerberg at the helm, the odds are for Fwd.us being a force to be reckoned with in the years ahead.
Follow Charli Radke on Twitter: www.twitter.com/charliradke