Mark Zuckerberg’s “smog jog” through Beijing is causing a stir on social media that he probably didn’t anticipate. The Facebook founder posted an image of himself jogging past the infamous Tienanmen Square with the background obscured in thick smog, which drew sharp criticism on Facebook and elsewhere.
At the time of this writing, the smog jog image has been shared over 6,000 times, received more than 10,000 comments, and garnered more than 300,000 combined likes and other reactions. Engagement with the photo and note, which can be viewed in the embedded post above, was tremendous, but it wasn’t all good.
Reactions to the 31-year-old tech founder jogging past Tienanmen Square ranged from concern for his health, due to the heavy smog, to condemnation for posting a picture of jogging through a place with such a bloody history. One of the smog jog photo’s top comments wonders how the Zuckerberg got past China’s Great Firewall, which blocks most Chinese citizens from accessing sites like Facebook.
The answer, most likely, is a VPN service.
In addition to the Chinese government’s stranglehold on the Internet within its borders, the smog jog also caused a stir due to the air pollution that is clearly visible in the image. Although Zuckerberg and his entourage are clearly visible in the foreground, the background is obscured by heavy smog.
Facebook users who are familiar with the choking air pollution in Beijing also responded to the controversial post, asking why Zuckerberg would risk his health by jogging without a mask in such heavy smog.
One user welcomed the Facebook founder to Beijing but wondered why he would damage his lungs by jogging outside without protection.
“Hey Welcome to Beijing. I don’t understand why you would do something like this to yourself… The AQI in Beijing is like 300 now… You know the damage to your lung is permanent and could be detrimental right… If you need an air purifier let me know… I will lend one aeris aura to you for free…”
Hong Kong actor David Siu also chimed in with a Chinese infographic warning about lung damage.
Aside from the Zuck’s questionable choice to jog through such heavy smog, the post also caused a stir due to the place he chose to jog. Tienanmen Square was the site of a political protest, less than 30 years ago, that left hundreds dead. The official government death count was between 200 and 300, while outside sources say as many as several thousand may have died.
The stir surrounding the smog jog wasn’t all political or environmental, though. Facebook user Rose Luk Peterson accused the Zuck of Photoshopping himself into his jogging pictures.
“How do you managed to keep looking like you are photoshopped in all the running pictures? Being the only one with no shadow under your shoes! Amazing!”
According to The Washington Post, Zuckerberg’s smog jog photo was likely intended to curry favor with Chinese leadership, as he is very interested in getting Facebook unblocked in the country. The website has been inaccessible in the country since 2009 due to the government’s Great Firewall Internet censorship effort.
The actual smog jog was part of the Facebook founder’s effort to run 365 miles this year, in participation with the “A Year of Running” Facebook group that he linked in his post. He ticked off mile 100 during the hazardous jog through heavily polluted Beijing, which puts him ahead of schedule, as last Thursday was just the 77th day in the year.
Do you think that the smog jog should have caused such a stir on social media, or is Zuckerberg choosing to jog in such dangerous atmospheric conditions, through an area with such a bloody past, not really that big of a deal?
[Photo by Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook]