Mark Zuckerberg is not the first person you would expect to see speaking at a political rally or shaking hands on a rope line at a campaign stop. He generally seems a little… disinterested in those kinds of public displays. But Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency has thrust some rich celebs into the presidential rumor mill, and the Facebook CEO has conspicuously started to make a public show of attempted likeability. Some of these actions have been nice, or at least had an undeniably decent effect regardless of intent, and some have just been showy, weird, and/or contradictory.
Having trouble keeping track of this flurry of possibly play-acted humanity? Here’s a timeline of how Zuck has tried to make us stop thinking about Jesse Eisenberg when we hear his name:
September 2010: In the weeks before the release of the unflattering biopic The Social Network (which, to be fair, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin kinda made up), Zuckerberg and then-Newark mayor Cory Booker announced a $100 million donation to the Newark school system. On Oprah. Which itself was a tone-deaf misfire.
“It played disastrously in the community because, immediately, nobody understood why do we have to turn on Oprah at 4 o’clock to find out what’s going on in our own city?” the journalist Dale Russakoff, who wrote a book on the donation, later said.
December 2010: Joined Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and 14 other billionaires in announcing that he would donate the majority of his wealth to charity.
January 2011: Appeared on Saturday Night Live next to Eisenberg, looking like a good ol’ sport.
February 2013: Hosted a fundraiser for Chris Christie. Then, in June, announced he would host a fundraiser for Booker. Really trying to be liked by both sides of the political aisle… in New Jersey. Okay.
June 2013: Participated in the San Francisco LGBT pride parade.
February 2014: Along with his wife, Priscilla Chan, got himself named the most generous philanthropist of 2013 by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
November 2015: Made a big public point of taking a leave after the birth of his child, as paid family leave became an increasingly visible political issue. (Conservatives have dabbled in this one to make themselves seem nice — see Trump, Ivanka.)
December 2015: Defended the Muslim community against Donald Trump’s first campaign call for a travel ban.
February 2016: Came out strongly against vandalism at Facebook’s headquarters that altered the phrase “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter.”
December 2016: Uh… finds God??
January 2017: Criticized Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.
January 2017: Set a “personal challenge” to travel to all 50 states (or the approximately 20 he hadn’t yet visited) and interact with people. In doing so, reminded us that he’d already “run 365 miles, built a simple AI for my home, read 25 books, and learned Mandarin.”
Soon after, posted pics of himself listening intently to the Common Man in Texas.
March 2017: Visited the home of God, whose existence he’d recently stopped denying, at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. More photos with Everyday Americans.
January 2025: Gives awkward inauguration address (tentative).