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Why Does Mark Zuckerberg “Like” Glenn Beck’s Star Right-Wing Pundit?

A close examination

Getty Images
Getty Images

Have you looked at anyone’s list of Facebook “likes” recently? The “like” list is a sad graveyard for briefly held interests and the pages for acquaintances who are now, unfortunately, DJs. I like looking at people’s “likes” because it’s often a digital space they forget to curate and, thus, it’s embarrassing. With that in mind, I looked at Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook “likes” list — after all, the “like” is a meaningless gesture, but it’s one that Mark Zuckerberg created for the site. His “like” list is a more deliberate-seeming creation than most, yet somehow is even weirder.

A 2010 New Yorker profile on Zuckerberg notes that the young tech tycoon included the phrase “Eliminating Desire” among his interests. Zuckerberg no longer includes “Eliminating Desire” on his list, which suggests he has, unlike most other people, consciously pruned his list through the years. The vast majority of his “likes” are so bland they seem optimized to provoke a bored shrug. He likes his own dog and his own dad’s dental practice page. He likes Oculus (Facebook owns Oculus) and Messenger (Facebook owns Messenger). Obviously, he likes Ender’s Game. He likes McDonald’s. He doesn’t like to choose sides; Zuckerberg likes President Obama and Hillary Clinton, but he also likes Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. He likes Beyoncé and Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. He likes John Mayer!

It’s all so carefully tepid and powerfully mayonnaise that the slight deviations from the bland formula that do exist are startling. Take, for example, “Revolutions.” Zuckerberg likes “Revolutions.” Liking “Revolutions” is very “I own a Che Guevara shirt” of Zuckerberg. To be specific, it’s 90 to 100 percent “I own a Che Guevara” shirt of him, and that’s strange because his brand is more “I own a shirt that has an Ayn Rand quote on it but I’m kind of embarrassed of it now so I wear it only while washing the car.” Another strange break from Zuck’s whole “normal guy who likes The Matrix” schtick — the only two female actors he likes are Glee stars Lea Michele and Dianna Agron. Is there some sort of Glee-related agenda going on here?

The oddest “like” by far is Tomi Lahren, a 24-year-old pundit for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. Lahren is a younger, even angrier iteration of Ann Coulter, a blonde, outrage-courting shock jock. Many of her more popular videos on Facebook are vehemently against Black Lives Matter. One of her online videos (a rant against Colin Kaepernick) recently went Facebook-viral, with more than 65 million views. That might explain why Zuckerberg has taken an interest in her, although Zuckerberg didn’t like Chewbacca Mom, and he doesn’t have a history of liking other viral video producers. His other “liked” journalists are popular consumer/business tech reporters like Walt Mossberg and Nick Bilton, as well as Jose Antonio Vargas, who wrote that New Yorker profile — and who also criticized Lahren for comparing Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan. This is a break from form. Instead of avoiding a controversial pick, Zuck went for one of the rising controversy jesters using Facebook.

Perhaps liking Lahren is a calculated move. Earlier this year Zuckerberg’s company got knocked after a Gizmodo report revealed that some of the Facebook employees who handled its Trending Topics widget were deliberately avoiding stories sourced from right-skewing publications. This led to a lot of backlash, and Facebook ended up making Trending Topics even more useless by straight-up firing its editorial staff in favor of an algorithm and some programmers. Maybe paying attention to Tomi Lahren is an attempt to understand the enemy. Maybe Zuckerberg has been spending too much time palling around with Facebook board member and noted Trump devotee Peter Thiel. Or maybe he’s just messing with us.

We’ll never know the reason, but there is one single gem we do know — something that’s impossible to misinterpret: