“I started my day in North Carolina at Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the world.”
“I stopped by the Elkhart Fire Department to meet the crew and for some of the ribs and chicken they were cooking.”
“I spent the afternoon with the Gant family on their farm in Blanchardville, Wisconsin.”
“I’m in Charleston, South Carolina and I spent the morning at Mother Emanuel—the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South.”
Are these the photo captions of a tech CEO or a presidential candidate? While Mark Zuckerberg swears he isn’t gearing up for a presidential run, it’s getting harder for the public to suspend the little belief it has in this claim. Posts like those above as well as Facebook Live videos with local politicians are taking up more and more of the precious space on the Facebook mogul’s feed—which, with nearly 90 million followers, is a godsend of a campaign platform. Other than content surrounding the company’s recent F8 developer conference and some fun with new photo filters, Zuckerberg’s entire feed has been photo ops with middle class Americans and their cows, tractors and local grub.
The photos come from his personal resolution for 2017, which he announced in January as a mission to visit and meet people in every U.S. state by the end of the year. He framed this largely around his position in technology and his work being “connecting the world and giving everyone a voice.” But now that we’re a few months into Zuckerberg’s travels, it’s become undeniable that this is more of a campaign trail than it is sociable road trip around America.
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The biggest indicator is who he’s meeting. While Zuckerberg set out to visit people in every state, he’s been opting only for people a politician would meet. We haven’t seen any dentists or accountants or movie theater workers or bartenders or kids. Rather, we’ve only seen people all candidates need to applaud (such as veterans, military spouses, religious leaders and teachers), people whose jobs and experiences are hot topics of political policy and debate (such as journalists, police officers, oil workers and people recovering from opioid addictions) and people who exude wholesome American pride (like farmers, fishers, small business owners, rodeo cowboys, Nascar drivers and college basketball players).
And of course there’s the classic meet and greet with the guy serving up the best version of the favorite local food—a political plot device that’s a so typical of presidential travel it persists in nearly every TV shows about presidents like Veep, Scandal and House of Cards. So far, we’ve seen Zuckerberg chow down on the local kolache, southern BBQ and brat with cheese curds. Days ago, he dined with a family in their home in Ohio. In regards to finding a family to visit, the local newspaper The Vindicator reported he asked his staff to find Democrats who voted for Donald Trump.
And all this comes after some other obvious politically motivated moves. As we’ve previously reported, Zuckerberg recently: revealed that he is no longer an atheist; appointed Obama administration alum David Plouffe as head of policy and advocacy for his charitable initiative; wrote a 5,700-word mission statement that reads like a State of the Union address; and even rewrote Facebook’s proxy statement so that he could retain control of the company while serving in elected office.
Zuckerberg did fake his last resolution about running a mile everyday, so he could be faking that this isn’t the start to a campaign as well.
Flip through the slides above to see photos of Zuckerberg out on the campaign trail.
UPDATE: I wrote a follow up based on the reactions I got to this article. It’s titled “People Really, Really Don’t Want Mark Zuckerberg to Run for President” and you can read it here.