Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg F8 2018 Keynote (link) by Anthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States is licensed CC BY 2.0 (link)



Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Facebook


Priscilla Chan

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Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Facebook. Zuckerberg founded the company while at Harvard with classmates Andrew McCullum, Dustin MoskovitzChris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin. He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are also active left-of-center advocacy philanthropists; in 2015, the couple founded the philanthropic limited liability company Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; its charitable arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation; and its political arm, Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy.

As of December 2020, Zuckerberg has an estimated net worth of almost $103 billion, making him the third-wealthiest person in the world.1

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was announced on Facebook on December 1, 2015, with the birth of Zuckerberg and Chan’s first child. The stated purpose of the foundation was to improve all of humanity by making long-term investments to reduce inequality, combat mortality, reform education, and develop technology.2

As an LLC, the Initiative’s tax implications differ from standard nonprofits. Stock given to the Initiative will not result in tax credits and will remain under Zuckerberg and Chan’s control through their ownership of the Initiative. However, when they liquidate or contribute these shares for direct grants, they will be eligible for tax benefits. Additionally, by transferring their wealth in company shares to the Initiative, Zuckerberg and Chan can avoid paying estate taxes on their wealth in the future upon their deaths. On the other hand, the LLC will be liable for income or capital gains taxes on any successful investments into for-profit companies.3

The Initiative has given grants to numerous left-of-center and left-wing nonprofits related to expansionist immigration advocacy and increased leniency in criminal justice, including the National Immigration Forum, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the American Immigration Council, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the Justice Action Center, the Civil Rights Corps, Common Justice, the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, the Tides Center, the Center for American Progress, the Niskanen Center, and NEO Philanthropy.

However, the Initiative has also contributed to a few right-of-center and libertarian organizations, including the American Conservative Union Foundation, Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, and the Cato Institute.4

Since 2015, the Initiative has given almost $24 million to the Education Fund, the charitable advocacy component of, a left-of-center PAC founded by Zuckerberg in 2014 that supports liberal policies in immigration, criminal justice, and higher education spending.5

Newark Schools Initiative

On September 24, 2010, Zuckerberg announced on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” that he was donating $100 million to the public school system of Newark, New Jersey. The donation was solicited by then-Mayor and future Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) who met Zuckerberg at an investment conference. Zuckerberg’s donation was matched by another $100 million from other donors.6

The spending plan outlined by Booker proposed to make Newark the “charter school capital” of the United States and implement strict teacher accountability metrics. Many local teachers and administrators criticized the plan for having a lack of input from school employees. Of the $200 million, ultimately $48 million would be spent on a new agreement with Newark’s teacher union, $57 million would support charter schools, and $21 million would go to consulting fees.7

The results of the Newark initiative have been ambiguous. Test scores rose considerably, from the 39th to the 78th percentile nationally, and high school graduation rates increased 14%. However, given the amount of money spent, the initiative has been criticized for having an insufficient impact.8

Controversies and Criticism

Illegal Campaign Intervention Lawsuit (2022)

On September 22, 2022, the right-leaning watchdog group Center for Renewing America filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) alleging that CEIR had violated rules prohibiting 501(c)(3) nonprofits from intervening in elections in 2020. The complaint also extended to two related nonprofits, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and National Vote at Home Institute, and asked the IRS to investigate and strip all three nonprofits of their tax exemption. (The center’s complaint also suggests that Zuckerberg and Chan may have contributed to National Vote at Home Institute and asks the IRS to investigate that claim.) 9

The same day, the Center for Renewing America also filed a complaint with the IRS against Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, alleging that they had taken “improper charitable contribution deductions” on the roughly $400 million in total that the couple donated to CTCL and CEIR in 2020, since the latter nonprofits had used the funds to engage in unlawful electioneering and were therefore liable to lose their tax exemption. 10 The center wrote:

The very genesis of the Zuckerbucks program also shows that it violates Section 501(c)(3) because it was designed to benefit the personal financial interests of Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan by avoiding any adverse financial consequences of staying out of the 2020 election.

Specifically . . . the Zuckerbucks program was conceived to offset the supposed damage the couple did to American politics in 2016 by passively allowing Facebook to be used to elect a Republican President.

The Center for Renewing America argues that, although there were no laws specifically prohibiting CTCL and CEIR from making COVID-19 “relief grants” to secretaries of state and county elections offices in the lead-up to the 2020 election, those activities still fell outside of the IRS’ definition of the “charitable activities” that 501(c)(3) public charities may lawfully engage in. The group wrote: 11

[T]he pattern of Zuckerbucks spending and how these organizations targeted, penetrated into, and harvested data out of local election offices clearly operated as a de facto get-out-the-vote effort for the Democrat party. As such, under [existing law] . . . these organizations cannot qualify for a tax exemption.

. . .

Even if CTCL, NVAHI [National Vote at Home Institute], and CEIR each operated for some charitable purpose, none of them operated exclusively for such a purpose.

It concludes: 12

In light of the fact that CTCL, NVAHI [National Vote at Home Institute], and CEIR have collectively spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their purpose of revolutionizing the way America votes in order to shift the outcome toward Democrats in key battleground States in 2020 — activities that constituted political campaign intervention and were not in furtherance of any exempt purpose — we urge the IRS to investigate whether these three organizations Section 501(c)(3) statuses should be revoked.


Personal Views

Zuckerberg has never publicly affirmed membership with a major political party, but he has been called conservative and liberal at various times by media outlets.1314 Zuckerberg has expressed public support for liberal immigration policies15 and increased legal  LGBT.16

After the 2015 San Bernardino attack by Islamist extremists, Zuckerberg issued a public statement in support of Muslims worldwide and said they were always welcomed to work at Facebook.17

At the Facebook offices, employees are permitted to write messages on the walls. In February 2016, an anonymous Facebook employee crossed out ‘Black Lives Matter’ that another employee had written on a wall. Shortly after, Zuckerberg released a company-wide memo condemning the action and declaring it a violation of free speech to cross out the phrase. He announced that Facebook would launch an investigation into the matter.18

In January 2017, Zuckerberg publicly criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from Muslim-majority countries.19

In 2013, Zuckerberg founded, a left-of-center lobbying group. In an op-ed, Zuckerberg described the group’s purpose as “build[ing] the knowledge economy the US needs to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment” primarily through liberal immigration policies and increased government spending on science and education. Founding contributors to included Elon Musk, Reed Hastings, and executives at dozens of large tech companies, including Google, Airbnb, and Cisco.20 In 2020, spent $610,000 on lobbying.21

Soon after its creation, and Zuckerberg were criticized by environmentalist groups for supporting numerous right-of-center PACs, including Americans for a Conservative Direction, which ran ads in support of the Keystone XL pipeline.22

Political Spending

Politically, Zuckerberg has supported candidates of both parties, but in election cycles following 2016 he has provided more support to Democrats. During the 2018 midterm election reporting cycle, Zuckerberg donated to California Democratic House candidate Katie Porter, and during the 2016 election reporting cycle, Zuckerberg made a $10,000 donation to the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.2324

During the 2014 midterm election reporting cycle, Zuckerberg donated to Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), then-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), then-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), then-Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and House candidate Sean Eldridge (D-NY), the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.25 Zuckerberg also hosted a fundraiser dinner for then-Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) in 2013.26

Presidential Candidacy Rumors

Starting in 2017, there were rumors of Zuckerberg running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States,27 but he later denied these intentions.28 Zuckerberg did privately advise then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend) during his 2020 Presidential candidacy.29

2020 Elections

In 2020, Zuckerberg and Chan donated $400 million to local election agencies and non-profits that focus on elections to combat potential election fraud and support the conversion of polling stations to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their donation matched the total amount spent by the US government on the matter.30 The left-of-center Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) received at least $250 million from Zuckerberg and Chan, the single largest donation.31

Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy, the political arm of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, was the single largest supporter of California’s Proposition 15, which proposed raising property taxes on commercial real estate. Prop 15 was ultimately defeated.32


  1. “#3 Mark Zuckerberg.” Forbes. December 6, 2020. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  2. Zuckerberg, Mark. “A letter to our daughter.” Facebook. December 1, 2015. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  3. Cassidy, John. “Mark Zuckerberg and the Rise of Philanthrocapitalism.” New Yorker. December 3, 2015. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  4. “Grants.” Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  5. Wadha, Vivek. “The Way Forward for” Washington Post. May 15, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  6. Matthews, Dylan; Pinkerton, Byrd. “Mark Zuckerberg wanted to help Newark schools. Newarkers say they weren’t heard.” Vox. July 3, 2019. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  7. Matthews, Dylan; Pinkerton, Byrd. “Mark Zuckerberg wanted to help Newark schools. Newarkers say they weren’t heard.” Vox. July 3, 2019. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  8. Matthews, Dylan; Pinkerton, Byrd. “Mark Zuckerberg wanted to help Newark schools. Newarkers say they weren’t heard.” Vox. July 3, 2019. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  9. IRS complaint filed against Center for Technology and Civic Life, National Vote at Home Institute, Center for Election Innovation and Research. Center for Renewing America. Filed Sept. 22, 2022. Accessed Sept. 27, 2022.
  10. IRS complaint against Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Center for Renewing America. Filed Sept. 22, 2022. Accessed Sept. 27, 2022.
  11. Hayden Ludwig. “New IRS Complaint Alleges ‘Zuck Bucks’ Groups’ Illegal Partisanship in 2020 Election.” Capital Research Center. Sept. 26, 2022. Accessed Sept. 27, 2022.
  12. Hayden Ludwig. “New IRS Complaint Alleges ‘Zuck Bucks’ Groups’ Illegal Partisanship in 2020 Election.” Capital Research Center. Sept. 26, 2022. Accessed Sept. 27, 2022.
  13. “Conservatives including Mark Zuckerberg, Grover Norquist urge House to pass immigration reform.” UPI. October 30, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  14. Burns, Alexander; Haberman, Maggie. “2013: Year of the liberal billionaire.” November 1, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  15. Constine, John. “Zuckerberg Replies To His Facebook Commenters’ Questions On Immigration.” Tech Crunch. June 20, 2013. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  16. Gallagher, Billy. “Mark Zuckerberg ‘Likes’ SF LGTB Pride As Tech Companies Publicly Celebrate Equal Rights.” Tech Crunch. June 30, 2013. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  17. Emery, Debbie. “Mark Zuckerberg Vows to ‘Fight to Protect’ Muslim Rights on Facebook.” The Wrap. December 9, 2015. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  18. Gyunn, Jessica. “Zuckerberg reprimands Facebook staff defacing ‘Black Lives Matter’.” USA Today. February 25, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  19. Wong, Julia Carrie. “Mark Zuckerberg challenges Trump on immigration and ‘extreme vetting’ order.” The Guardian. January 27, 2019. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  20. Constine, Josh. “Zuckerberg And A Team Of Tech All-Stars Launch Political Advocacy Group” Tech Crunch. April 11, 2013. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  21. “Client Profile:” Open Secrets. Accessed December 6, 2020.
  22. Handley, Meg. “Facebook’s Zuckerberg Takes Heat Over Keystone, Drilling Ads.” April 30, 2013. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  23. Federal Elections Commission. “Individual Contributions: Mark Zuckerberg”. Accessed April 30,2019.
  24. Federal Elections Commission. “Individual Contributions: Mark Zuckerberg”. Accessed April 30,2019.
  25. Federal Elections Commission. “Individual Contributions: Mark Zuckerberg”. Accessed April 30,2019.
  26. Dickey, Megan Rose. “Mark Zuckerberg’s Holding a Fundraiser for Chris Christie.” Business Insider. January 24, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  27. Carter, Shawn M. “More signs point to Mark Zuckerberg possibly running for president in 2020.” CNBC. August 15, 2017. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  28. “Priscilla Chan says neither she nor her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, have political ambitions.” CBS. February 18, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  29. Pager, Tyler; Wagner, Kurt. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Privately Advised Pete Buttigieg on Campaign Hires.” Time. October 21, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  30. “Mark Zuckerberg donated $400 million to help local election offices during the pandemic.” Independent. November 11, 2020. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  31. Shleifer, Theodore. “Mark Zuckerberg’s $300 million donation to protect elections must overcome Facebook’s past.” Vox. September 1, 2020. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  32. Bollag, Sophia. “Petitions for a property tax change are coming to a grocery store near you. Here’s what to know.” Sacramento Bee. October 23, 2019. Accessed December 7, 2020.
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