Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's personal goal for 2017: Meet people in every US state

Facebook chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg speaking during a 'town-hall' meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi.
Facebook chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg speaking during a 'town-hall' meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi.PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to visit every American state by the end of this year and talk to people about how they are living and what they are thinking about the future, adding to speculation that he could move into politics.

"Every year I take on a personal challenge to learn new things and grow outside of my work. In recent years, I've run 365 miles, built a simple AI (artificial intelligence) for my home, read 25 books and learned Mandarin," Mr Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday (Jan 3).

"My personal challenge for 2017 is to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year. 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,'' he said.

Mr Zuckerberg said he plans to take road trips with his wife Priscilla Chan and make "stops in small towns and universities, visits to our offices across the country."

"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 said.

"Going into this challenge, it seems we are at a turning point in history. For decades, technology and globalization have made us more productive and connected. This has created many benefits, but for a lot of people it has also made life more challenging. This has contributed to a greater sense of division than I have felt in my lifetime. We need to find a way to change the game so it works for everyone."

It is the latest in a series of moves that indicate Mr Zuckerberg's intention to pursue government service, the Guardian reported.

Unsealed court filings from a class-action lawsuit filed in April last year revealed that Mr Zuckerberg and two board members had discussed how he might pursue a political career while retaining control of Facebook, according to the report.

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, one of the company's most prominent investors, texted Mr Zuckerberg in March to say that the "biggest issue" of the corporate proposal was "how to define the gov't service thing without freaking out shareholders that you are losing commitment".

On Christmas Day, Mr Zuckerberg posted a cheery holiday message on Facebook. "Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” he wrote, naming his wife, daughter and dog. 

When a netizen asked "aren't you an atheist?", he replied: "No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important".

The Guardian report, citing Pew Research Centre, said being an atheist is one of the biggest liabilities a presidential candidate can have.