Zuckerberg for president? Facebook CEO continues to fuel rumours as he visits election battleground states

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg waving to the audience at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg waving to the audience at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg continued to fuel talk of him running for political office as he visited midwestern American state Wisconsin on Monday (April 1, Singapore time), the latest of his stops in his plan to cover all 50 US states.

The 32-year-old shared photos of his visit to a family's farm in Blanchardville, describing the Gants' farm life.

He later posted a photo of himself at an eatery called State Street Brats, which Facebook users had recommended.

Amid the flurry of comments and likes - one user said the restaurant owner "would have been so proud to have the world's most powerful man in his shop" - another thread was unfurling: The suggestion that Zuckerberg was considering running for office.

The father of one said in a post on his natural medium - Facebook - in January that he planned to travel to the remaining 30 US states that he has not been to yet.

"My personal challenge for 2017 is to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year," he wrote. "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 added that his hope for the challenge was to "get out and talk to more people about how they're living, working and thinking about the future".

So far, Zuckerberg has shared photos and stories from his visits to states including Michigan and Ohio, where he spoke to immigrants, Muslim students and former drug addicts.

His plan to visit all the states has stoked speculation that he intends to go into politics, especially after unsealed court filings from a class-action lawsuit filed in April last year showed that Zuckerberg had discussed how he might pursue a political career while retaining control of Facebook, The Guardian reported.

In a text, prominent Facebook investor Marc Andreesen said the "biggest issue" was "how to define the gov't service thing without freaking out shareholders that you are losing commitment".

Zuckerberg appears to have been aligning himself with more politically favourable positions, observers say.

On Christmas day last year, Zuckerberg - who previously declared himself an atheist on Facebook - said in a response to a Facebook comment that he now believes "religion is very important".

Industry watchers have remarked that being an atheist is one of the biggest liabilities a presidential candidate can have, The Guardian previously reported.

However, Zuckerberg told Buzzfeed in January this year that he had no plans to run for president.

"I'm focused on building our community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative," he had said, referring to the corporation he set up with his wife that aims to "advance human potential and promote equal opportunity".

Buzzfeed noted, however, that Zuckerberg did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about whether he had explicitly ruled out a run for good.