Facebook’s Image Crisis: No One Seems to Buy Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Soft Side’

Despite Zuckerberg's efforts to show that king of social media is just like us, his message didn't quite land.

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, CEO of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Facebook’s publicly awkward CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, stepped into some very hot water last month after he announced that Facebook would not fact-check or censor political advertisements on the grounds that Americans should be able to see for themselves whether a politician is telling the truth. As the 2020 presidential election closes in, voters on both the left and right increasingly discuss Zuckerberg as something of a villain of democracy whose power is only increasing.

Which makes it an opportune moment for him to invite a TV crew to his home while showing off a side of himself to soften his stiff public image.

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On Monday, CBS This Morning aired an episode of CBS host Gayle King interviewing Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, at their Palo Alto, Calif. home with their two young daughters playing between sequences.

It was the first time the couple had ever allowed press cameras inside their house. During the heart-to-heart conversation, Zuckerberg and Chan discussed how they raise kids, their weekly “date night” routine (which was Zuckerberg’s idea) that strictly prohibits work talk, and funny anecdotes from their dating life in college.

“There was a major red flag,” Chan said of her first date with Zuckerberg. “I’m like a type A student. At the end of the day, he said, ‘I have a take-home midterm I need to do, but I’d rather hang out with you.'”

“Which I thought would be like a compliment, right?” Zuckerberg cut in.

“I was like, this guy is going nowhere. He’s blowing off his homework,” Chan continued.

Asked what’s one thing that would surprise people about her husband at the end of the interview, Chan said, “I think you are getting it out of him today, Gayle—He’s kind of a softie.”

However, despite Zuckerberg’s good intention and professional execution of showing that the king of social media is just like us, his message didn’t quite go through.

“Too little too late trying to humanize this guy,” a viewer commented on CBS This Morning’s YouTube channel.

“He looks so guarded at all times,” commented another. “Seems exhausting.”

Few media outlets picked up Zuckerberg’s new “family guy” image, either. Reporting on the new interview, most news headlines still hinge on Facebook’s political ads policy, on which Zuckerberg reiterated his view in the programming.

“What I believe is that, in a democracy, it’s really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so they can make their own judgments,” he said. “I don’t think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news.”

You can watch the interview here:

Facebook’s Image Crisis: No One Seems to Buy Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Soft Side’