Facebook's security spend for its CEO shows Zuckerberg knows how hated he is

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg appears for a hearing at the Hart Senate Of...


The amount spent on Mark Zuckerberg's personal security in 2020.


The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

More than $23 million was spent protecting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year alone. That number far outweighs the money put towards personal security for other tech leaders. Amazon’s now-former CEO Jeff Bezos, for instance, spent only $1.6 million on personal security. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi? Less than one million dollars.

Rising costs — That information comes from Protocol, which reviewed regulatory filings that showed the cost of protecting tech leaders grew in 2020, despite a global pandemic keeping them mostly confined at home.

That’s probably because the tech industry did amazingly well during the pandemic as many others did quite the opposite. It put into stark contrast the inequality present in the United States that Bezos could see his wealth balloon by tens of billions while his workers pleaded for basic protections like guaranteed sick leave and hazard pay.

Zuckerberg’s outsized security costs are notable, though. All of these leaders have plenty of detractors — there’s a nationwide strike against Uber happening right now over falling driver pay — and every article about Bezos’ space flight pillories the world’s richest man for spending on an 11-minute trip above the Earth when his company doesn’t even want to pay its warehouse workers for the time they spend going through security.

Zuckerberg’s plight — But last year was intense for Zuckerberg and Facebook, which was getting hit from all sides for everything from sowing doubt about vaccines to enabling an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In April of this year, Facebook noted that its yearly assessments “identified specific threats to Mr. Zuckerberg.” Regulatory filings also indicate that Zuckerberg is “synonymous” with “negative sentiment” surrounding Facebook.

People inside Amazon warehouses might be frustrated about their treatment, but people enjoy using the site and so hatred towards Bezos is more abstract for most. People similarly like using Uber to get around. Everyone across the political spectrum has opinions about Facebook’s moderation decisions, however. And it’s already been shown that Facebook allowed “Stop the Steal” groups to spread misinformation that, among other things, the platform was helping to steal an election. Being the poster boy behind Facebook, Zuckerberg faces a lot of animosity.

Other leaders — Besides the aforementioned leaders, the security expense list compiled by Protocol includes other leaders and their costs:

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai — $5.4 million
  • Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer — $2.06 million
  • Oracle chairman Larry Ellison — $1.71 million
  • Snap co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel — $1.67 million
  • Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff — $1.31 million
  • Lyft CEO John Green — $599,000
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook — $470,000

Of course, considering all these people are very rich, the costs are chump change if it gives them some peace of mind.