Facebook's Zuckerberg buys his privacy for $30M

The CEO snaps up 4 homes near his and leases them to their current residents, all to avoid prying eyes.

By MSNMoney partner Oct 11, 2013 1:45PM
By Vincent Trivett, Minyanville

Expensive homes, Charles Briscoe-Knight, PhotographerFacebook (FB) just made it even harder to keep your activities private, but its founder just spent tens of millions of dollars to avoid prying eyes.

According to the San Jose Mercury News (hat tip to Business Insider), Mark Zuckerberg found out that a developer was promoting a neighboring house with his name. It's an understandably creepy invasion of privacy. I wouldn't want my name and location used to sell a home -- or any other goods or services -- unless I'm fairly compensated for it.

Zuckerberg's response was to buy four surrounding homes and lease them to their current residents. This is in Palo Alto's Crescent Park neighborhood, where Zillow finds homes going for an average of $3 million, up 21% year over year, so this wasn't cheap. The Facebook founder spent $30 million for the houses adjacent to his modest home. One neighbor demanded $14 million.

Google (GOOG) founder Larry Page pulled a similar stunt so he could build a sprawling mansion (sorry, no Google Island just yet).

Sound a little ironic?

We see so many headlines on Facebook's slowly loosening privacy rules that, at this point, it just registers as white noise. But today, privacy-conscious users are upset over the social network's dismantling of a feature that allows you to stay invisible in search.

Chief Privacy Officer Michael Richter said yesterday that the change, which was hinted at a year ago, will begin to go into effect soon. Currently, about 10% of users, which would be equivalent to the 12th most populous country in the world if they all got together, limit those who can search for them by name to "friends of friends." Richter says that though your identity will not be hidden, you can still choose who gets to see what's in your profile.

Earlier this year, Facebook released Graph Search, which allows you to search for people without knowing exactly who you are looking for. Naturally, this could get dicey with everyone -- including government officials, law enforcers, and wrongdoers -- having easy access to lists of "married people who like prostitutes," "family members of people who live in China and like Falun Gong," and "Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran"

Users of Facebook and Google products are getting used to the idea that what happens in your personal life online doesn't necessarily stay private, especially after the Edward Snowden leaks that revealed back doors for the government peeking at major websites. If you want a low profile, you have little choice but to just stay off social networking sites. And if you want to get rich enough to buy your privacy, buy up some Silicon Valley real estate while the getting is good.

More from Minyanville

Oct 11, 2013 2:51PM

The sheople have given him that money by embracing his business model so who are the stupid ones?


Won't find me on FB.


I have a life, AND don't need to advertise that to anyone.

Oct 11, 2013 3:12PM

"If you want a low profile, you have little choice but to just stay off social networking sites."


The easiest choice anyone will ever make.

Oct 11, 2013 3:25PM
And this is why I do not have a FB account....
Oct 11, 2013 3:40PM
I wish I had owned one of those houses he overpaid for.
Oct 11, 2013 4:55PM
His Facebook invades privacy. What a two-faced turd!
Oct 11, 2013 3:19PM
It just goes to show how incredible wealth can make some people daffy.
Oct 11, 2013 3:36PM
Do you see this Facebook users?  His subpar product has paid him enough to spend this much money and he doesn't even thank you.
Oct 11, 2013 2:57PM
Those who take such great measures to avoid prying eyes have something to hide.
Oct 11, 2013 3:16PM

Just another hypocrite proving to everyone in the world how trickle down economics doesn't work.  The rich only do one thing with their wealth generated by their workforce.


Spend it on everything BUT the people who generate their billions.   And I imagine you can find a quote from this punk bitching about how he needs tax credits and welfare for the rich because of his supreme awesomeness


This &%* isn't even WORTH the space of this article.  Pathetic it is even news worthy.


Oct 11, 2013 3:20PM
Wow, I am so happy for him, getting to live beyond the American dream as they continually make record profits by shipping out the jobs making food stamps a program that the former middle class has become aware of.
Oct 11, 2013 4:54PM
Bill Gates did the same thing. Though it is sorta ironic he want's his Privacy. 
Oct 11, 2013 4:45PM
Holy fk someone got demanded 14 mil! Smart man, i bet the other neighbors are jealous they didn't demand as much. That was an easy way to become a multi-millionaire. 
Oct 11, 2013 3:21PM
You mean Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss won't be Mark's new neighbors after all?
It's nice that he can have his privacy but he won't give us our privacy.
Oct 11, 2013 4:36PM
This is not just stupid, but also awfully arrogant! I hope all of his neighbors' neighbors do the same, so he has to buy their houses (20 million each) as well, etc. Maybe he will eventually figure it out. 
Oct 11, 2013 7:52PM
I do not care how much money he has rich or poor he is still a jerk
He is living the American dream along with Google founders and other internet entrepeneurs.

This shows how incredibly stupid this moron is.  Anyone who would buy real estate in California, is just as stupid.

Oct 11, 2013 6:00PM
God he's a douche......  People, quit using this crap and you won't have to worry about your privacy either.
Oct 11, 2013 4:57PM
Ha, this is so funny.  I would think that person who created Facebook had no issues with "privacy", even with his own. 
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