Zuckerberg, Mark Elliot

Zuckerberg, Mark Elliot, 1984–, American computer programmer and business executive, b. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. A computer prodigy as a child, he entered Harvard in 2002 and two years later co-founded Thefacebook.com, a website designed to enable Harvard students to communicate with one another; it soon was extended to other colleges and became extremely popular. Zuckerberg left Harvard and, with two fellow programmers, moved to Palo Alto, Calif., where they set up a social-networking site renamed (2005) Facebook. By 2012, about 800 million people actively used Facebook, and the company, which was tightly controlled by Zuckerberg, had an estimated yearly profit (2011) of $1 billion. The company's subsequent growth, to more than 2 billion active users, and its acquisition of other lucrative and popular social apps, made it a social media behemoth.

Facebook's reputation was harmed in 2017–18 by revelations that it had been exploited to spread disinformation and propaganda during the 2016 U.S. election, and that the company had failed to inform users that their privacy had been compromised through data harvesting. The company's attempts at times to minimize the two events in public also hurt it. In 2020, Facebook was sued by the Federal Trade Commission and nearly all the states for anticompetitive activities involving the acquisition of potential rivals. Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged in 2015 to commit over time most of their fortune (at the time, roughly $45 billion in Facebook stock) to a philanthropic initiative.

See D. Kirkpatrick, The Facebook Effect (2010), and B. Mezrich, The Accidental Billionaire (2010).

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