Love him or hate him, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has changed the face of the world and relationship statuses as we know it. According to Forbes, as of this writing, he’s the fifth-richest person in the world with a net worth of $129.9 billion. As one of the biggest names in the tech industry, Zuckerberg has faced his fair share of media scrutiny — from his go-to outfit of a hoodie and tee to the strange way he met his wife, Priscilla Chan. Considering Facebook is a mecca for memes, it should come as no surprise that Zucks and his own social media posts have often become the butt of the joke online.
As followers of Facebook know, Zuckerberg’s real-life story isn’t exactly what 2010’s “The Social Network” portrayed it to be, but when you’re as big as this tech guru, it’s hard to separate the man from the myth and the legend. And as long as his social-networking site is around, the internet is going to be talking. We bring you the weirdest reasons Mark Zuckerberg has gone viral.
That time Mark Zuckerberg vowed to only eat animals he's killed himself
As people who have followed his business know, Mark Zuckerberg is a man of goals. From learning Mandarin to traveling across America, he sets a challenge for himself each year — though one of his mission operatives, revealed in July 2017, raised a few eyebrows.
“Several years ago at Facebook, our chefs cooked a whole pig,” he wrote in part on Facebook, explaining that he felt inspired when a co-worker said, “It would be delicious but she wished she didn’t have to see where the meat came from.” Zuckerberg added, “I’ve always thought we should be thankful and understand where our food comes from — so for that year I set a goal to only eat meat that I killed and helped butcher myself.” Declaring on Facebook in 2011 (via HuffPost), “I just killed a pig and goat,” Zuckerberg also claimed to Fortune around this time that he was going to “basically become a vegetarian” due to this new goal. However, the tech innovator wasn’t carnivore-shaming, as he explained, “I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to eat.”
Still, the nitty gritty of this goal was a bit off-putting, to say the least, as Chef Jesse Cool — who connected Zuckerberg with the local farmers that assisted him in slaughtering his first pig, chicken, and goat — described “the most kind way to do it” to Fortune (we’ll spare you the details).
His pretty extravagant demands for a visit to Uruguay made headlines
Although Mark Zuckerberg has some gorgeous homes in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe, California, as well as in Hawaii, per the New York Post, he’s a “zucker” for a vacation — sorry, we had to do it. His eight-day trek to Uruguay in 2011, however, had more than a few people saying, “What the zuck?” (Okay, okay, we’re done now.)
According to El Pais (via Gawker), the Facebook CEO had an admittedly strange list of demands for his stay in resort town Punta del Este, and it made headlines stateside and abroad. While staying at a millionaire’s house, Zuckerberg reportedly requested that every surface in the property had to be scrubbed down with “special [cleaning] products,” every piece of furniture in the mansion had to be “replaced,” and “pets were banished” from the premises, as some of the members of the tech entrepreneur’s entourage were “very allergic.” There was also a seemingly “outrageous” amount of staff on hand to deal with Zuckerberg and his eight guests, including “a chef, a cook, two maids, two body guards, and at least two ‘specially hired security guards.'”
At this point, we just want to know where our invite was, Mark.
An early Facebook exchange went viral for all the wrong reasons
Facebook has certainly grown from the college student networking site Mark Zuckerberg first envisioned, although some of his early comments about initial users have not aged well. As the company began facing criticism about its privacy policies and how it handled user information in 2010, Business Insider obtained some old instant messages Zuckerberg reportedly exchanged with a friend, and they didn’t quite help his case.
According to the outlet, Zuckerberg, then 19, allegedly told a college pal, “Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard. Just ask. I have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, [and] SSNs.” When asked how he had “manag[ed] that one,” Zuckerberg reportedly responded, “People just submitted. I don’t know why. They ‘trust me.’ Dumb f**ks.”
Um, awkward! While Facebook has adapted new privacy policies since its early days and has worked with users to make sure they trust the social media platform, controversy and debate over the site’s privacy settings has only increased in the years since — and the internet was less than enthused to hear a younger Zuckerberg comment so nonchalantly about online privacy.
His televised meeting with this Social Network star was awkward
Jesse Eisenberg helped bring the story of Facebook to life in David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Social Network,” which scored eight Oscar nominations and three wins, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing. Although the film was hailed by critics, Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team weren’t particularly appreciative about how they were portrayed, with Zuckerberg saying in a Facebook Q&A event that the movie-making team “made up a bunch of stuff that [he] found kind of hurtful,” per The Guardian. “There were pretty glaring things that were just made up about the movie that made it pretty hard to take seriously,” the tech innovator added.
All of this only made it more awkward when Zuckerberg met up with Eisenberg, his onscreen counterpart, in real life. Yup, Zuckerberg made headlines when he made an appearance during Eisenberg’s monologue on “Saturday Night Live” in 2013, calling “The Social Network” star “his evil twin,” and appearing a little stiff during their first in-person meeting.
NPR later noted that Facebook CEO was “smiling a little oddly at times,” though concluded it was “probably the smartest thing Zuckerberg has done, publicity-wise, in quite some time.”
Mark Zuckerberg's patriotic surfing video attracted the trolls
Mark Zuckerberg loves spending time on a lake as much as the rest of us, although his social media celebration for the Fourth of July in 2021 made him the subject of some cyber vitriol. On his Instagram account, Zucks shared a minute-long video of himself holding an American flag and surfing on an electric board, all while John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” played.
As of this writing, the video has received over 3.7 million views. Though some comments celebrated his surfing skills, others differed, with one commenter calling it “the stuff meme dreams are made of.” According to HITC, the video quickly made the rounds on other social media platforms, like Twitter. One person tweeted out that it was “full cringe,” while others commented on Zuckerberg’s maneuvering on the water: As one Twitter user put it, “This should be the coolest thing ever but because he is mark zuckerberg he somehow made it weird and awkward. He looks like @BostonDynamics designed a surfing robot.” Yikes!
Regardless of his detractors, we don’t blame Zuckerberg for showing off his surfing skills — though, as The Wrap noted, the New York native and California resident’s “affinity” for West Virginia through his music selection was a little random, to say the least.
The Facebook CEO really loves Sweet Baby Ray's
Say what you want about Mark Zuckerberg, but he loves smoking meats! In 2016, the Facebook guru went live on his site with some friends for 32 minutes to discuss his love for meat cooking and his strong affinity for America’s favorite BBQ sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s. The Zuck showed off his grilling techniques and frequently reiterated his barbecue sauce of choice, as well as the phrase, “smoking meats.” His slightly robotic voice, as well as his frequent repetitions garnered the attention of internet users, who quickly took hold of the footage and memed Zuckerberg to the moon and back. This YouTube supercut of all the times he said “Sweet Baby Ray’s” is a particular favorite.
Still, it sounds like Zuckerberg was entertained by the way that the internet took hold of his video. In a 2021 chat on Clubhouse, per Business Insider, he called it his “favorite” meme. “I do love grilling and cooking, and that was silly, and I appreciate that everyone enjoys it,” Zuckerberg added of the video, which has since garnered 11 million views. We can’t exactly blame him — it is a good barbecue sauce.
Mark Zuckerberg's sunscreen face became a beloved meme
Memesters had a field day when Mark Zuckerberg took an electric surfboard for a spin in July 2020, while wearing an exorbitant amount of sunscreen on his face (what, did you think that aforementioned Fourth of July video was a one-off for the Zuck?). In this earlier occasion, the tech entrepreneur’s ghost-faced resemblance prompted viral comparisons to The Joker, mimes, and even Data from “Star Trek,” per The Indian Express. Didn’t anyone tell the Facebook CEO that you have to rub it in?
Well, it turns out Zuckerberg had a fairly good explanation for why he had applied more sunscreen than humanly necessary. In an Instagram Live conversation with the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, the following April, Zuckerberg explained that he was trying to go incognito after noticing a photographer following him on the beach in Hawaii. “I was like, ‘Oh I don’t want him to recognize me, so you know what I’m gonna do? I’m just gonna put a ton of sunscreen on my face and then he won’t know who I am,'” he said with a laugh. “But that backfired.”
It seems like Zuckerberg also took this situation in good stride, as he captioned the video of their conversation about the photo with the following quote: “As long as the world keeps turning, the memes keep churning.”
Why his friendship with Pete Buttigieg drew suspicion
Reeling in Facebook amidst privacy concerns and worries about the power of Big Tech was a big talking point in the 2020 democratic primary election, and one that Mark Zuckerberg and his friend, Pete Buttigieg, had to answer to. According to Politico, the Harvard alums first met in 2017 when Zuckerberg was seeking to speak with Americans from every state, and then-Mayor Pete, who had become a buzz-worthy politician in South Bend, Indiana, seemed like the perfect candidate for his stop in The Hoosier State. Although their time at Harvard overlapped, they didn’t run in the same circles. However, Buttigieg was one of Facebook’s first few hundred users — No. 287, to be exact.
Buttigieg and Zuckerberg rode around South Bend in a Jeep on Facebook Live for a semi-awkward — and frankly, a little dull — conversation, though that wasn’t the end to their connection. When Buttigieg was running for president in the 2020 election, Bloomberg reported that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, recommended two staffers for his campaign, leading to rumors of an endorsement and Zuckerberg having to walk back the situation, telling reporters (via Politico), “This probably should not be misconstrued as if I’m, like, deeply involved in trying to support their campaign.”
Still, Zuckerberg’s help in building Buttigieg’s staff came back to bite him when Buttigieg told The New York Times that, just because they were acquaintances, “doesn’t mean [they] agree on a lot of things” — and that when it came to Zuckerberg’s status, “No one should have that kind of power.” Awkward!
The internet had a field day with Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to Congress
Mark Zuckerberg testified to Congress in April 2018 to answer to privacy and security concerns about Facebook, after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had used “the data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users to psychologically profile voters during the 2016 election,” according to The New York Times. He certainly had his work cut out for him: How does one explain the meaning of the Poke button to a group largely made up of sexagenarians and older?
Still, Zucks’ lengthy testimony provided plenty of fodder for the internet to run with. Zuckerberg looked understandably stressed, especially as some of Congress’ questions teetered on the lines of, well, questionable relevancy. Per The Verge, Sen. Ted Cruz used his time to confront Zuckerberg on why Facebook had shut down a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day page, while Sen. Orrin Hatch asked how Facebook sustained a business when “users don’t pay for [the] service.” Zuckerberg slyly answered, “Senator, we run ads.” Well played.
Perhaps the most awkward moment was when Zuckerberg had to answer to one of his early, pre-Facebook creations: Facemash, which allowed users to look at two pictures of women and vote on which one was more attractive. Yikes. Although he asserted that Facemash wasn’t ever connected to Facebook, The Verge noted that “the conversation clearly made Zuckerberg uncomfortable.”
Mark Zuckerberg has a pet goat … named Bitcoin
Let’s be honest, one of the greatest parts of social media is the pet pics, from cat memes to dog snapshots — and when it comes to Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook creator partakes like the rest of us. In May 2021, he shared a photo on Facebook of his two goats: Max and Bitcoin. (Yes, you read that right.)
The internet, understandably, exploded with opinions on the Zuck naming the latter pet after the rising cryptocurrency, and the viral photo has received over 1.6 million likes and 605,000 comments, as of this writing. Many considered it Zuckerberg’s way of endorsing Bitcoin, per India TV, while others pointed out the peculiarity of the other goat, Max, which shares the same name as Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s youngest daughter.
However, it seems quirky pet names are all par for the course in the Zuckerberg household. In the comments section of his post, Mark Zuckerberg revealed he also has chickens named Toaster and Bicken Ben, as well as a dog named Beast.
He took off the hoodie and the internet had thoughts
Like Steve Jobs and his turtleneck, Mark Zuckerberg has become synonymous with the hoodie and t-shirt combo. Entrepreneurs like Jobs and Zuckerberg always have a good reason for their drab wardrobe: By wearing the same basic clothing item each day, it eliminates one decision and allows them to get to work quicker. “I’m in this really lucky position, where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than a billion people,” he once explained (via GQ). “And I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”
Still, the Facebook CEO’s dependence on his comfy clothes means that when we get to see him without the hoodie, there’s even more scrutiny over his fashion choices and what they might mean. In 2010, Zuckerberg infamously took off his hoodie at the D8 Conference to reveal a Facebook shirt with “an intriguing strategy-cum-Illuminati logo,” per The Guardian. Even host Kara Swisher asked if he was in “some kind of cult.”
Although the logo was clearly inspired by the company’s goals and mission, this wasn’t the only time that Facebook had been compared to something slightly more sinister. In 2019, Facebook employees said the work culture was like a “cult” at a company-wide town hall meeting, according to CNBC, claiming that its performance review system discouraged dissent and allowed favoritism to run rampant.
Mark Zuckerberg went viral when he tried his hand at the ice bucket challenge
The viral Ice Bucket Challenge took the internet by storm in 2014 with its unique call-to-action: douse yourself in ice cold water to raise awareness and money for the fight against ALS. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg had to get in on the fun after being challenged by then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In a video shared to his Facebook page, Zucks — sporting his patently plain gray t-shirt — challenged Bill Gates, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, as well as Netflix’s Reed Hastings, to participate before pouring a bucket of ice water on himself. Well, it wasn’t a bucket per se … he used an empty recycling bin, but the intention was there.
The video, which has received 357,000 likes, as of this writing, ended with Zuckerberg remarking, “That was really cold.” Touché. Considering Zuckerberg was one of the first big celebrities to take up the challenge, outlets like Time and The Verge picked up the story, though publications like Vice called out the idea as a whole, writing it off as performative activism.
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