Mark Zuckerberg gets honorary Harvard degree after dropping out

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
  • As Jared Kushner examined as part of FBI Russia investigation

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has returned to Harvard University under rainy skies to give a graduation speech and receive an honorary degree.

The world’s fifth-richest person, worth $62.3b (£48.1b), famously dropped out of Harvard after launching the global social-networking website.

Mr Zuckerberg called for students to “not only create new jobs, but create a new sense of purpose”.

Political experts think he may be positioning himself to run for office.

During his remarks on Thursday, Mr Zuckerberg told graduates that “we live in an unstable time”.

“There’s pressure to turn inwards,” he said about those that feel left behind by increased globalisation.

“This is the struggle of our time. The forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism.”

With his wife, Priscilla, in the audience, he pointed to the dormitory where he launched Facebook, and remarked that meeting her there was the best thing to happen to him at the university.

Before giving remarks, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during Harvard’s 366th graduation ceremony.

On Wednesday, he did a Facebook Live broadcast from his old dorm room.

“This is literally where I sat,” he says, pointing to a small wooden desk and chair inside Kirkland House, which is due to be renovated over the summer.

“I had my little laptop here. And this is where I programmed Facebook,” he tells the camera.

During his commencement address, Mr Zuckerberg told students: “There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in ten years when millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.

“When you don’t have the freedom to take your idea and turn it into a historic enterprise we all lose,” he continued.

He told stories of meeting “children in juvenile detention and opioid addicts, who told me their lives could have turned out differently if they just had something to do”.

The 33-year-old appeared to get choked up at one point during a story about an high school student who feared he would not be able to enrol in university because he was an undocumented immigrant.

More than 1.9 billion people log onto Facebook every day.

Since it’s launch in 2004, Facebook has inspired many other social media competitors, including Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.

In 2007 another Harvard drop-out returned for an honorary degree.

Bill Gates addressed students shortly after stepping down from the world’s largest software company, Microsoft, to launch to focus on his charity.

In the meantime, contacts between Russian officials and Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Donald Trump and one of his senior advisers, are a focus of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, sources tell ABC News.

While Kushner is not a target of FBI investigation and has not been accused of committing a crime, sources said he is among a number of White House staffers and former Trump campaign officials who are likely to be interviewed by the FBI because of their interactions with former national security adviser Michael Flynn — or because they had contact with Russian officials during the campaign or the transition.

Of particular interest is Kushner’s participation in a meeting with Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in December and a separate meeting with a Russian financial executive with a bank that had been subject to U.S. sanctions, sources said. Both contacts have been previously reported and the White House has denied that they were inappropriate.

The sources told ABC News that Kushner has not yet been contacted by the FBI and has not been asked to turn over any documents.

“We don’t know anything,” a source close to Kushner told ABC News. “He hasn’t been approached.”

“Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry,” Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday night called for Kushner’s security clearance to be suspended until the FBI has completed its investigation.

“The FBI’s Russia investigation reached Trump’s backyard, and now it’s in his house,” the statement read. “Kushner’s security clearance should be suspended until the FBI’s findings are complete.”

Last week, ABC News confirmed that the FBI’s inquiry had extended to at least one current White House staffer.

The White House provided a statement at the time in response to a Washington Post report on that matter, denying any collusion between associates of the president and Russia.

“As the president has stated before — a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity,” said press secretary Sean Spicer in the statement.

BBC with additional report from NBC

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