An eerie photo of Mark Zuckerberg sporting a thick layer of sunblock while surfboarding in Hawaii has sent Twitter into overdrive, giving a boost to a petition launched to bar him from “colonizing” Native Hawaiians’ land.
The Facebook CEO became the butt of jokes on Twitter on Sunday evening after photos of him holidaying in Hawaii were leaked to the media. The images show Zuckerberg braving the ripples on an electronic surfboard while wearing a copious amount of sunscreen as well as his famous hoodie.
Netizens pulled no punches, tearing into Zuckerberg’s appearance, noting his striking resemblance to otherworldly creatures, and quipping that the billionaire was wearing “whiteface” and “a Guy Fawkes” mask.
Others, however, noted that the real issue behind the snaps was not Zuckerberg’s appearance (with some even commending the Facebook CEO for using what is likely the zinc-based, reef-friendly sunscreen one is supposed to wear in Hawaii), but him allegedly strong-arming native Hawaiian owners into selling parcels of their land.
The controversy over Zuckerberg purchasing acres of beachfront land in Hawaii traces back to 2017, when it became known that he filed ‘quiet title’ lawsuits against a few hundred Hawaiians who owned stakes in plots inside 700 acres of land the billionaire purchased on Kauai’s North Shore several years before that.
Since the parcels were scattered through his vast Kauai estate, Zuckerberg apparently hoped to persuade the owners to sell them, but faced strong opposition from locals, who came out to protest against a six-foot wall built around the estate, which effectively barred them from accessing their ancestral land.
After the story about Zuckerberg’s legal wrangling in Hawaii grabbed headlines, he promised to drop the suits. After largely falling off the media radar, the story returned to the spotlight in 2019 amid allegations that Zuckerberg had not dropped his pursuit of titles completely, but instead was chasing the land through a proxy, supporting local man Carlos Andrade in his litigation with dozens of his relatives.
Earlier this month, a petition on Change.org was launched to prevent Zuckeberg from “colonizing Kauai.” The petition, which has racked up over 800,000 signatures in just over three weeks, claims that Zuckerberg needs to “be stopped.”
Don’t let the privileged steal things that don’t belong to them any longer… Don’t stay silent about this just because he’s rich… He has 10 homes already. INCLUDING surrounding properties to insure his privacy. He has enough. Like this is ridiculous.
In a comment to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Zuckerberg denied the allegations, saying that the billionaire had withdrawn the lawsuits in 2017, and that “no one has been forced off of the land.”