Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg began 2017 with a bold personal challenge: “to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year.”
So far, his whistlestop tour of the states certainly bears all the hallmarks of early political canvassing.
As part of the challenge, Zuckerberg reportedly wanted to meet longtime Democrats who voted for Trump in the last election and asked his team to reach out and find such people.
“I’ve spent significant time in many states already, so I’ll need to travel to about 30 states this year to complete this challenge,” the tech CEO wrote on his personal Facebook page on January 3.
“After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working, and thinking about the future,” he added.
The Facebook boss met with Daniel Moore and his family at their rural home in Ohio on Friday.
Moore voted for Barack Obama twice, but then actively campaigned on behalf of then-candidate Donald Trump.
Moore told local news outlet WKBN that the Facebook CEO wanted to find out more about America’s so-called ‘Rust belt,’ which garnered so much attention during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Zuckerberg has also visited Michigan and Wisconsin on his nationwide tour, making sure to take plenty of wholesome, salt-of-the-earth photos with everyday working-class Americans along the way.
Such a tour becomes even more conspicuous in light of unsealed court filings from a class-action lawsuit in 2016 in which Zuckerberg attempted to dilute shareholder power and afford himself permanent control of the $440 billion company.
Of particular note in the proceedings was a message sent to Zuckerberg by Marc Andreessen, one of Facebook’s most prominent investors, in which he raised the issue of “how to define the government service thing without freaking out shareholders that you are losing commitment.”
“It’s the thing people will point to on announcement and say ‘what the f**k are you guys doing agreeing to this’, particularly since… government service would require you to give up control of Facebook anyway and it’s a moot point,” said Andreessen, adding credence to speculation that Zuckerberg will make a run for political office at some point in the future.
In terms of broadening political appeal and widening a potential voter base, Zuckerberg has made a notable 180-degree turn on his religious stance in the past 12 months.
The entrepreneur previously declared himself an atheist, on Christmas Day no less (though Zuckerberg himself was raised Jewish), but has since tempered his position by stating that he believes “religion is very important.”