Zuckerberg says Facebook doesn’t focus on charity because it’s already doing plenty of good

Not up to scratch.
Not up to scratch.
Image: Reuters/Robert Galbraith
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Big companies often pledge to do good for the world. This can mean donating money to charities, advocating for social issues, or championing employee volunteer programs. But to Facebook, giving back means focusing on social media.

In a recent interview with Fast Company, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains his philosophy toward corporate social responsibility. Interviewer Robert Safian contrasts Zuckerberg’s attitude with that of recently retired Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz, who used his platform to advocate for same-sex marriage, gun control, and race relations, and Salesforce, which gives employees seven paid days off each year for volunteering. “You haven’t chosen to do that,” Safian says. “Is there a Zuckerberg philosophy about how the business expresses its values?”

Zuckerberg responds:

“I think the core operation of what you do should be aimed at making the change that you want. A lot of companies do nice things with small parts of their resources. I would hope that our core mission is the main thing we want to accomplish, in that almost all of our resources go toward that … It’s not that people [at Facebook] don’t believe in that, I just think what we are doing in making the world more open and connected, and now hopefully building some of the social infrastructure for a global community—I view that as the mission of Facebook.”

To be clear, Zuckerberg is no Scrooge. He and his wife Priscilla Chan have vowed to donate 99% of their Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a foundation focusing on science and education. As a first step, they’ve committed $3 billion over 10 years “to cure, prevent or manage all disease during [their] children’s lifetime.” But it appears that Zuckerberg also thinks his company is actively making the world a better place. (Some social-media users may disagree.)

This kind of corporate mindset strongly resembles that of Apple mastermind Steve Jobs, who shut down his company’s philanthropic programs back in 1997. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Jobs was frank about his belief that Apple was giving back plenty to the world: “Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.” That said, the men’s attitudes toward charity differed in at least one key respect: Jobs, unlike Zuckerberg, was decidedly not a public philanthropist.