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Zuckerberg’s Plan to Repair Facebook’s Image: More Zuckerberg

Photo: Photos by Bloomberg; Illustration by Mike Sullivan

During a companywide Q&A with Facebook employees last Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned to a question about a recent uptick in posts on his Facebook page, including a joke he made referencing the actor Vin Diesel a few days prior. He acknowledged that his public persona has been “really serious,” bordering on “squarely robotic,” but said that “life is too short to be serious all the time,” according to a transcript of his comments reviewed by The Information.

It was a memorable admission for the 36-year-old co-founder of the social media giant, who has posted mostly sober commentary on his Facebook page in recent years as the company has become mired in regulatory and PR nightmares. But lately Zuckerberg’s posts have taken a whimsical turn, touching on everything from new Facebook products to memes. “Do you ever get so excited about what you’re working on that you forget to eat meals?” he wrote two weeks ago.

As Zuckerberg told employees, he is trying to “engage with more of the product work” and make sure the company is “doing what we can to also highlight and focus on some of the positive parts of what we’re doing.”

His comments summarize what has been evident to any observer of Facebook lately: Mark Zuckerberg has decided to take back control of his company’s battered image. His decision is backed by a 2021 Facebook communications planning document, according to a person who viewed it. The plan said that Zuckerberg would ramp up media appearances to discuss the company’s products and innovation. It was developed after Facebook’s public image suffered damage from a constant drumbeat of press reports about its challenges with misinformation, political speech and data privacy.

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