Mark Elliot Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984 in White Plains, New York. After graduating in 2002 from the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he enrolled at Harvard University where he earned a reputation as an expert software developer and created a social networking website called The Facebook. After his sophomore year, Zuckerberg dropped out of college to devote himself full-time to this project, which he renamed simply as Facebook; it eventually became a multi-billion-dollar corporation.
Zuckerberg and Immigration / Islam
Zuckerberg has been outspoken on a number of political matters, most notably immigration reform. “We [Americans] have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants,” he wrote in an April 2013 Washington Post op-ed. “And it's a policy unfit for today's world.” That same month, Zuckerberg led a dozen fellow tech-industry executives in co-founding the organization FWD.us, to promote the creation of “a pathway to citizenship for immigrants … that do not have legal status.” He explained that the chief objective of his fledgling group, which drew its name from President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign slogan (“Forward”), was to bolster America's “knowledge economy” by attracting “the most talented and hardest-working people” from around the world.
Toward that end, Zuckerberg has consistently favored increasing the number of H-1B visas that are issued to high-tech foreign workers, even though half of all students graduating with “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees from American colleges are currently unable to find employment in those fields. He also supports an expansion of the Optional Practical Training program that allows foreigners with F-1 student visas to take jobs where employers can: (a) pay them much lower wages than they would be required to pay to U.S. workers, and (b) avoid paying Medicare and Social Security taxes on the foreign workers' behalf.
To maximize the effectiveness of FWD, its leaders in April 2013 also established two subsidiary organizations—Americans for a Conservative Direction and the Council for American Job Growth.
In September 2013, Zuckerberg visited Capitol Hill to press members of Congress in private meetings to support an amnesty bill advocating citizenship for millions of illegal aliens.
In June 2015, Zuckerberg donated $5 million to TheDream.US, a college scholarship fund created by Washington Post publisher Donald Graham, Democratic National Committee finance chairman Henry Munoz, and “immigrant-rights” activist Gaby Pacheco. Its purpose was to benefit illegal aliens to whom the Obama administration's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program had granted legal status, work permits, access to certain social services, and protection from deportation. Zuckerburg continued to contribute heavily to the fund over the ensuing two years.
At a Facebook developer conference in April 2016, Zuckerberg lamented that “as I look around and I travel around the world, I'm starting to see people and nations turning inward—against this idea of a connected world and community.” Without naming anyone in particular, he criticized those who had spoken out against open borders and in favor of immigration-law enforcement: “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as 'others,' for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, reducing trade and, in some cases around the world, even cutting access to the Internet.... It takes courage to choose hope over fear.”
Zuckerberg has also been a vocal opponent of what he views as anti-Islamic speech. In September 2015, for instance, he and Facebook announced that they were joining forces with the German government and a German Internet watchdog called Voluntary Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers, to monitor what Facebook called the “racist and xenophobic comments” that some visitors were posting to the website. At the time, many Germans objected to the fact that vast numbers of “refugees” were migrating to their country from terrorist strongholds in the Muslim world. Later that month, Zuckerberg assured German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government had recently complained that Facebook was doing too little to purge its site of comments criticizing Islam, that he would give the issue all the attention it deserved.
Beginning in November 2015, Facebook helped fund a newly formed “Hate Helps” propaganda initiative, organized by a German NGO called Demokratische Kultur (Center for Democratic Action), which pledged to donate one euro for every negative or “racist” comment posted against Muslims and migrants on the Internet.
In January 2016, Facebook launched what it called an "Initiative for civil courage online," whose purpose was to censor and remove from its website—particularly from items posted by German users—all "racist" posts contain[ing] "hate speech" and "promot[ing] xenophobia.""Hate speech has no place in our society—not even on the internet," explained Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.
Reacting to critics who warned Western countries against accepting migrants from terrorist hotbeds in the Middle East, Zuckerberg in early 2016 stated that he had “no tolerance” for “hate speech against migrants,” whom he described as a “protected group.”
After two Islamic terrorists massacred fourteen Americans at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015—just three weeks after jihadists had killed 130 innocents in Paris—Zuckerberg worried openly that Western Muslims might in turn be victimized by bigoted people of other faiths. “I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world,” he wrote. “After the Paris attacks and hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others.... If you're a Muslim in this [Facebook] community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.”
By contrast, Zuckerberg has exhibited much less concern about anti-Semitic rhetoric by Muslims. Beginning in September 2015, for instance, bulletins posted on Facebook were helping to fuel and encourage a sudden spate of Palestinian violence (stabbings, shootings, and vehicular attacks) against Jews in Israel. When the Israeli Foreign Ministry asked Zuckerberg and his company to remove any posts that incited anti-Jewish violence, they replied that they were not responsible for such content and had no way of monitoring it effectively. In October 2015, the head of the nonprofit legal organization Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) filed a lawsuit “on behalf of some 20,000 Israelis” accusing Facebook of “fanning the flames of the current Palestinian intifada” by “its refusals to actively monitor and block the incitement to violence.” And in January 2016, Shurat HaDin launched a campaign called “Zuckerberg Don’t Kill Us,” which sought to purchase billboard ads in and around Zuckerberg's hometown of Palo Alto, California, to publicize Facebook's negligence regarding this matter.
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In 2013, Zuckerberg, asserting that “connectivity is a human right,” helped launch Internet.org, a partnership through which Facebook and six other tech corporations aimed to bring free Internet access to poor people in underdeveloped countries. Journalist Daniel Greenfield observed that this was “essentially … a subsidy for Facebook disguised as a charity program.”
In 2014 Zuckerberg met in his office with Lu Wei, the czar of China’s Internet censorship system which blocks access to many foreign websites, punishes or shuts down any site that posts content critical of the state, and censors the Web to hide evidence of corruption and wrongdoing by the Chinese government. When Wei noticed a book written by Chinese President Xi Jinping titled The Governance of China on Zuckerberg’s office desk, Zuckerberg said: “I’ve bought this book for my co-workers. I want them to understand socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
In November 2015, Zuckerberg and a number of fellow billionaires and entrepreneurs (e.g., Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Reid Hoffman, and Jeff Bezos) pledged to use their wealth to spark a “new economic revolution” founded upon “renewable” and “clean” energy. According to Zuckerberg, progress towards sustainable energy systems was proceeding at “too slow” a pace.
On December 5, 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, publicly pledged to use their newly launched “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative” to give away, over the remainder of their lives, 99% of their Facebook shares—which at the time were valued at about $45 billion—to help “advanc[e] human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.” The SEC filing for this endeavor took pains to reassure investors that Zuckerberg planned “to sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years” and would retain “his majority position in our stock for the foreseeable future.” Moreover, the initiative was structured not as a nonprofit but as an LLC, thereby allowing it to earn and invest as much money as it wished.
In February 2016 Zuckerberg posted, on a Facebook announcement page, a private memo to his company's employees, noting, with disapproval, that some of them had been scratching out the increasingly popular “Black Lives Matter” meme and replacing it with “All Lives Matter” on the company’s famous signature wall. Wrote Zuckerberg:
“There are specific issues affecting the black community in the United states, coming from a history of oppression and racism. 'Black lives matter' doesn't mean other lives don't—it's simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve. We've never had rules around what people can write on our walls—we expect everybody to treat each other with respect. Regardless of the content or location, crossing out something means silencing speech … This has been a deeply hurtful and tiresome experience for the black community and really the entire Facebook community, and we are now investigating the current incidents. I hope and encourage people to participate in the Black@ town hall on [March 4th] to educate themselves about what the Black Lives Matter movement is about.”
In May 2016, the website Gizmodo reported that according to a number of former Facebook employees, workers at the company “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential 'trending' news section.”
According to hacked emails published in October 2016 by WikiLeaks, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg emailed John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, in August 2015 to see if Podesta would be willing to meet with Zuckerberg, to teach the latter about various political issues and the art of influencing public opinion. Wrote Sandberg:
“...[W]ondering if you would be willing to spend some time with Mark Zuckerberg. Mark is meeting with people to learn more about next steps for his philanthropy and social action and it’s hard to imagine someone better placed or more experienced than you to help him. As you may know, he’s young and hungry to learn — always in learning mode — and is early in his career when it comes to his philanthropic efforts. He’s begun to think about whether/how he might want to shape advocacy efforts to support his philanthropic priorities and is particularly interested in meeting people who could help him understand how to move the needle on the specific public policy issues he cares most about. He wants to meet folks who can inform his understanding about effective political operations to advance public policy goals on social oriented objectives (like immigration, education or basic scientific research).”
“Happy to do,” Podesta wrote in response.
On May 25, 2017, Zuckerberg was the commencement speaker at Harvard University's graduation ceremony. There, he exhorted the graduates to seek out a “new social contract” that would guarantee a universal basic income for everyone. Among his remarks were the following:
“Today I want to talk about three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose: by taking on big meaningful projects together, by redefining equality so everyone has the freedom to pursue purpose, and by building community across the world.
“First, let's take on big meaningful projects.... How about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet and getting millions of people involved manufacturing and installing solar panels?...
“The second is redefining equality to give everyone the freedom they need to pursue purpose.... Now, an entrepreneurial culture thrives when it's easy to try lots of new ideas. Facebook wasn't the first thing I built. I also built games, chat systems, study tools and music players. I'm not alone. JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before publishing Harry Potter. Even Beyonce had to make hundreds of songs to get Halo. The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.
“But today, we have a level of wealth inequality that hurts everyone. When you don't have the freedom to take your idea and turn it into a historic enterprise, we all lose. Right now our society is way over-indexed on rewarding success and we don't do nearly enough to make it easy for everyone to take lots of shots. Let's face it. There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can't afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.
“Look, I know a lot of entrepreneurs, and I don't know a single person who gave up on starting a business because they might not make enough money. But I know lots of people who haven't pursued dreams because they didn't have a cushion to fall back on if they failed.
“We all know we don't succeed just by having a good idea or working hard. We succeed by being lucky too. If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code, if I didn't know I'd be fine if Facebook didn't work out, I wouldn't be standing here today. If we're honest, we all know how much luck we've had.
“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. Now it's our time to define a new social contract for our generation.
“We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things. We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable childcare to get to work and healthcare that aren't tied to one company. We're all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.
“And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn't free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too.”
In June 2017, Zuckerberg issued the following remarks regarding how people should respond to acts of terrorism:
"This morning we activated Safety Check in Pakistan after a bomb targeted children and their families in a park in Lahore. Over the last two months, we have activated Safety Check several times for acts of terror -- including in Turkey and Belgium -- so people in the area can let their friends and loved ones know they're safe.
"Each of these attacks was different, but all had a common thread: they were carried out with a goal to spread fear and distrust, and turn members of a community against each other.
"I believe the only sustainable way to fight back against those who seek to divide us is to create a world where understanding and empathy can spread faster than hate, and where every single person in every country feels connected and cared for and loved. That's the world we can and must build together."
Zuckerberg, whose net worth currently exceeds $50 billion, once spent $30 million to purchase four homes situated on properties surrounding his own, in order to get “a little more privacy” for himself. And in 2016, he hired contractors to build a six-foot-high physical wall around his $100 million, 700-acre Hawaii property—a stark contrast to his earlier condemnation of “fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as 'others'” and refusing “to choose hope over fear.”
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 In December 2015, Shurat HaDin initiated what it called “The Big Facebook Experiment,” which sought to expose Facebook's double standard regarding hateful rhetoric that targeted Muslims as opposed to Jews. Specifically, the NGO created two nearly-identical pages—one anti-Israel, the other anti-Palestinian—and then proceeded to post nearly identical hateful content on both pages simultaneously. According to the Jerusalem Post: “The page inciting against Palestinians was closed by Facebook (on the same day that it was reported) for 'containing credible threat of violence' which 'violated our [Facebook’s] community standards' … The page inciting against Israelis, however, was not shut down, despite its identical hateful content. Shurat HaDin said that Facebook claimed that this page was 'not in violation of Facebook’s rules.'”
 The Gizmodo story reported that a politically conservative individual who had formerly worked on the “trending” news section said, on condition of anonymity, that “workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.” Added the story:
“Several former Facebook 'news curators,' as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially 'inject' selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all.... [C]urators have access to a ranked list of trending topics surfaced by Facebook’s algorithm, which prioritizes the stories that should be shown to Facebook users in the trending section. The curators write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites. The section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users—167 million in the U.S. alone—are reading at any given moment.
“'Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,' said the former curator.... 'I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.'
“The former curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder. 'I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,' the former curator said....
“The conservative curator described the omissions as a function of his colleagues’ judgements; there is no evidence that Facebook management mandated or was even aware of any political bias at work.”
Zuckerberg and fellow Facebook officials denied the allegations.