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Zuckerberg defends lawsuits filed over Hawaii land

Facebook's CEO says the legal actions are to ensure that everyone is compensated and pledges that no one will be evicted.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says his lawsuits in Hawaii are misunderstood.

James Martin/CNET

Mark Zuckerberg believes there's a misunderstanding about a series of lawsuits he has filed over land he purchased in Hawaii.

In 2014, Zuckerberg purchased 700 acres of beachfront land on Kauai's North Shore for a reported $100 million, with the intention of creating a secluded sanctuary for his family. But close to a dozen parcels within his property are owned by local families who have rights to traverse his estate, reports the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Zuckerberg is now filing "quiet title" lawsuits against a few hundred people who own or once owned the lands, which are often passed down from generation to generation without a will or a deed, the newspaper reported Wednesday. The suits are aimed "at forcing these families to sell their land at a public court auction to the highest bidder," the Star-Advertiser explains.

That's not accurate, Zuckerberg wrote Thursday in a Facebook post. He said he negotiated the land purchases through their majority owners, but some of these lands may have fractional owners who may not be aware they are entitled to anything.

"To find all these partial owners so we can pay them their fair share, we filed what is called a 'quiet title' action," Zuckerberg wrote. "For most of these folks, they will now receive money for something they never even knew they had.

"No one will be forced off the land," he wrote, adding that "it is important to us that we respect Hawaiian history and traditions."

This isn't the first time Zuckerberg has clashed with local residents in Hawaii. Some of his neighbors began complaining last June about a rock wall he was having built on his property.

The wall, which runs along the property next to a road in the semirural community of Kilauea, was estimated to be about 6 feet tall. A spokeswoman for Zuckerberg's Kauai property operations said the wall was designed to reduce highway and road noise.

But to neighbors, the wall is daunting and forbidding, closing off a view of the ocean through the property. Some neighbors told The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai that the wall "doesn't feel neighborly."

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