The man every Facebooker loves to hate, Mark Zuckerberg, has been on a bit of a goodwill tour lately. The social media CEO, having essentially authored the platform that connects the world, finally decided to put everything he’s created to better use than planning high school reunions. Facebook has become influential in a way that “Zuck” never could have predicted. The power of Facebook’s connectivity was most apparent during the 2016 election, when an explosion of false, planted stories by foreign interests were seen to have circulated in a way that proved exceedingly effective in convincing voters of ridiculous conspiracies and outright falsehoods.
Although Zuckerberg has denied that Facebook played a role in deciding the outcome of last year’s election, it clearly has weighed heavily on him. So after announcing in June that his company had a new mission — bringing the world closer together by building community — he embarked on a tour to show how it could be done.
As part of that journey, Zuckerberg was scheduled to tour Glacier National Park in Montana. Just the eighth national park to be designated as such by the US government, Glacier has always been as popular as a destination as it now is as a learning tool in our quest to understand the extent of climate change’s effects. The ice fields in Glacier have become a national snapshot of the terrifying possibilities of climate change, as they melt and shrink at an alarming rate. Zuckerberg flew to Glacier on Saturday for a tour and some science lessons.
But shortly before he was scheduled to arrive, the Trump administration made an executive decision: The park’s top climate change experts would be barred from accompanying Zuckerberg on his tour. Not only that, but the Park Service was forbidden from posting on social media about Zuckerberg before, during, or after his visit, including — ironically — on Facebook.
The US National Park Service’s official Facebook page followers may not have even noticed the conspicuous lack of posts from the 14th-17th of July, despite such a high-profile visit. Celebrity visits are frequently advertised as attractions to national parks, which boost local economies and encourage active vacations and even education. And personal attention from supervisors and experts on those visits can often result in large philanthropic donations from the bigwigs who tour the parks.
This was education the Trump administration didn’t want you to see.
Rangers, educators, and research ecologists employed by the federal government were prevented from even sharing a post that Zuckerberg made about his visit on Saturday:
It’s no secret why it happened, though park officials expressed their “puzzlement” at the top-level directive. Zuckerberg has been a vocal critic of the president, especially since his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
Vengeance and pettiness kept Facebook from sharing Mark Zuckerberg’s tour of one of America’s oldest national parks, and all because of Trump’s deeply-entrenched denial of climate change.
Featured image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images