What's the best birthday present the leader of the world's largest social network could get? Just leave him alone.
That's the message Mark Zuckerberg left people with when holding his sixth town hall event answering questions from the public Thursday.
Zuckerberg says he's so averse to birthday celebrations that when he turned 30 last year, he flew to the other side of the country to avoid any chance of shenanigans. It didn't work, and his assistant filled a conference room with balloons anyway when he returned.
Zuckerberg said he was stubborn about it and didn't agree to have the balloons cleared out. Instead, he held meetings throughout the day there.
This caused an odd sight because some of the meetings he has are contentious. One meeting was particularly odd, when he began dressing down subordinates. "You guys have to do better work, you're letting our community down, we need to do better work," he remembers saying.
"We were all up to our waists in balloons, and everyone was just so sad," he said. "It was ridiculous."
Though he didn't discuss whether, Zuckerberg said he's looking forward to a low-key, home-cooked meal this evening. "I get too much attention the rest of the time."
Zuckerberg's birthday plans were just the latest of many things he discussed at the question and answer session at Facebook's headquarters. Since his first event in November, Zuckerberg has held an event about once a month. He's also held the events in various locations, spanning from Colombia to Spain.
Though he typically ends up repeating many of the things he's said before about free speech, technology and societal issues, he has also given some insight into the way he works and what he sometimes thinks about.
Last year, he expanded on earlier comments he'd made about the Hollywood portrayal of Facebook's founding in Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network." In the past, he'd said the one thing the movie got right was his clothing, a joke undercutting the film's veracity. But talking in a live broadcast in November,
He's also, and the possibility of .
At his talk today, Zuckerberg also touched upon issues around diversity in Silicon Valley, a topic CNET recently investigated as part of its series, Solving for XX.
He said part of the problem is supply: There just isn't enough talented engineers who are women or minorities. "Longer term, we aren't going to solve this problem unless we get people interested in computer science and some of these fields," he said. "It would be great if we could have half of our engineers be women."
Part of the way he believes this can be fixed is by exposing children to computers, video games and technology at a younger age.
"Letting them play around with stuff is one of the best things you can do," he said. Zuckerberg said he spent a lot of time as a child playing with computers and playing the world-building game Civilization. "I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I had not played games as a kid."
Policy and vision
Zuckerberg also responded to questions about Facebook's rules around what posts might be taken down from the service, a trend
In particular, users asked Zuckerberg about posts regarding the tensions between the Ukraine and the US. Apparently, some had been removed, and rumors had begun circulating that Facebook was allowing racism and nationalism drive its decisions. More than 45,000 people wanted Zuckerberg to talk about this, Facebook said.
Zuckerberg said he investigated the company's actions, and said he supported decisions. He said Facebook had a groups in Ireland who speak many languages around the world making decisions about what posts are deemed racist and against the company's policies. Hate speech, he said, is unacceptable on the service.
He also gave some insight into his wardrobe. Zuckerberg in the past has said he chooses a basic wardrobe of jeans and a grey t-shirt because he doesn't like wasting energy on making decisions about what to wear.
So what will he wear when he's 80, the questioner asks, since a hoodie might look a little silly. "Maybe I'll wear like a unitard, or a one-piece, a unitard may be bad, but maybe what-is-it-called... a onesie?" he said to laughs in the audience. "Who knows what kind of incredibly unfashionable thing I'll have found."