Mark Zuckerberg has revealed one of his deepest-held anxieties—and it apparently is not that the social platform he runs may have enabled Russia to increase its insidious influence on the 2016 US presidential election.
No, his concern is something much more personal. He doesn’t want people to think he’s being inauthentic on Facebook.
Zuckerberg’s highly-trafficked Facebook page mixes family photos, philanthropic call-outs, information about new products, and even the occasional political debate. As Bloomberg Businessweek revealed in January, Zuckerberg’s own page—which might appear arbitrary at times—is carefully curated and managed by more than a dozen employees:
Typically, a handful of Facebook employees manage communications just for him, helping write his posts and speeches, while an additional dozen or so delete harassing comments and spam on his page, say two people familiar with the matter. Facebook also has professional photographers snap Zuckerberg, say, taking a run in Beijing or reading to his daughter.
In a recent interview with the same publication about the platform’s fake-news problem, Zuckerberg brought up that very article:
[Zuckerberg] smiles and then says, “I need to give you a hard time.” He proceeds to complain about a Bloomberg Businessweek story in January that noted he employs a team of about a dozen content moderators—as well as communications managers, professional photographers, video producers, Morgan Freeman—who are all responsible for maintaining his personal Facebook page. “You’re taking away from all the time that I spent on this,” he says.
At first it seems he’s being playful, but his expression hardens as he continues, his voice rising. “I also have an assistant who helped set up this meeting,” he says. “Does that mean I don’t do the meeting?” He continues: “My takeaway from that piece is, like, this”—meaning everything he posts on Facebook—“isn’t authentic. And that, I just felt, wasn’t accurate.”
While the anecdote is small, it’s a telling moment for the chief executive, who clearly values being perceived as authentic—and understandably so. Should he ever run for political office, for example, how authentic the public perceives him to be will undoubtedly become an even more pertinent question.