Senior Editor
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Mark Zuckerberg electric surfboard

Zuckerberg in disguise. Image: Aula/Twitter screenshot


The Inertia

Do you remember, just last year, when Mark Zuckerberg was photographed on an electric surfboard with a face so white he looked like a mime? He was wearing an absurd amount of sunscreen — absurd even by most surfers’ high standards. The internet collectively pointed and laughed at the man who created a safe space for people to point and laugh at one another, but now he’s explained why, exactly, he looked like his face was shit on by a pterodactyl.

Now, Mark Zuckerberg is not the most well-liked person on Earth. Between Facebook boycotts, the fact that there’s not a lot of love lost for him on Kauai, and accusations of being a soulless, dead-eyed cyborg, Zuckerberg cannot claim to be globally loved or a James Dean type. He’s not under any illusions about it, either.

“I’m not a person who’s under the illusion that I look particularly cool at any point with what I’m doing,” he said in a Facebook Q&A the week after the photo made the rounds. “But when you’re eFoiling down the coast of Hawaii, and it’s beautiful and it just feels like it’s awesome — and then you come back online and you see that’s the photo, that’s what you look like — it’s like, OK. Alright. That’s maybe quite a bit more sunscreen than I thought I was wearing.”

But now, after almost a whole year, Zuckerberg finally explained exactly why he was wearing a month’s worth of sunscreen during an Instagram Live discussion with Instagram head Adam Mosseri. Aside from the obvious benefits of protecting your skin, Zuckerberg explained that he was wearing the ridiculous amount as a kind of disguise. According to the conversation, he was being followed by a photographer and thought that a thick coating of it would… make him not look like Mark Zuckerberg. Which, as we know now, did not work.

“I really should have thought that one through more,” he said. “I noticed there was this paparazzi guy following us and, so I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want him to recognize me so you know what I’m gonna do? I’m just gonna put a ton of sunscreen on my face.’ And that backfired.”

He’s okay with being the butt (can we also talk about the junk in that trunk?) of the internet’s joke, though. “The delta between how cool you think you look and the worst photo a paparazzi can take is pretty funny,” he continued. “If someone wants to post a sunscreen meme, it’s cool. I’m happy to give the internet some laughs.”

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