Anti-wall crusader Zuckerberg put up 'oppressive' wall, say Hawaii residents

Technically Incorrect: At his home on Kauai, the Facebook CEO seems not to want to share a view of his property -- or the sea -- with others.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Walling himself off, instead of sharing?

James Martin/CNET

The words were uttered with fervor.

Or the minimally raised voice that passes for fervor in Silicon Valley.

There was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying in April: "I hear fearful voices talking about building walls. If the world starts to turn inwards, then our community will just have to work harder to bring people together."

He was clearly referring to wall-advocate Donald Trump. But, well now.

Here's a tale from the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where Zuckerberg has a home. As Kauai newspaper The Garden Island reports, some local residents are upset because the anti-wall crusader has, oh, built a wall.

It used to be that the public had a view of the ocean from a public road. But then workmen -- reportedly hired by Zuckerberg -- started building a wall that obscured the view.

"The feeling of it is really oppressive. It's immense," local resident Gy Hall told the Garden Island. "It's really sad that somebody would come in and buy a huge piece of land and the first thing they do is cut off this view that's been available and appreciated by the community here for years."

Zuckerberg is known to have bought land on the stunning north shore of Kauai in 2014. He reportedly paid more than $100 million for it.

The wall, still under construction, is said to be six feet tall and of as-yet-undetermined length.

Another resident, Donna McMillen, explained to the Garden Island: "I'm superunhappy about that. I know that land belongs to Zuckerberg. Money is no option for him. I'm 5'8" and when I'm walking, I see nothing but wall."

The Garden Island said that residents have left polite notes to Zuckerberg on the wall, but these have been torn down.

Local resident Shosana Chantara told the paper: "I've tried to write a letter to Mr. Zuckerberg more than once. I even met someone on the beach that worked with him. In the end he wrote me and said, 'I know a lot of people close to Mark and none of them are willing to give a letter because they're afraid of what his response will be.' That's a sad statement."

"It's not as if it's going to be more safe for Mark Zuckerberg," local Maria Maitino told the paper. "It feels to me like, 'this is my property and you don't have any rights to see it.' It's that negative kind of view and that doesn't feel neighborly."

No, it's not exactly sharing, is it.

A spokesman for Zuckerberg's Kauai "operations" confirmed that the Facebook CEO was behind the wall and insisted that it has (mostly) good intentions.

"Rock walls like this one being built along the roadway are routinely used as sound barriers to reduce highway and road noise, and that is its primary purpose," he said. "The sound barrier follows all regulated rules and regulations by the county and our entire team remains committed to ensuring that any development respects the local landscape and environment and is considerate of neighbors."

Clearly, some neighbors don't feel it's considerate enough.

We're all, though, in one way or other hypocrites.

However, Zuckerberg's public pronouncements don't often seem to be reflected in his own way of life. This is the man who once declared that people don't actually want privacy and then went and bought four houses around his Palo Alto home to secure himself more seclusion.

It does seem a touch rich that someone who peddles "sharing" and begs the world to tear down its walls feels perfectly happy to put up walls of his own.

I know that the rich aren't like you and me, but must they really live by rules that don't apply to you and me at all?

Updated at 5:56 p.m. PT: with comment from Zuckerberg's Kauai spokesman.