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Photo of Mark Zuckerberg slathered in sunscreen meant as paparazzi dodge

CNET logo CNET 4/27/2021 Sean Buckley
a close up of a womans face: Slather it on. Getty Images/Drew Angerer © Provided by CNET Slather it on. Getty Images/Drew Angerer

It's not every day you see one of the richest people in the world riding an electric surfboard in what appears to be heavily caked-on clown make-up, but 2020 was a weird year for Mark Zuckerberg .

The Facebook billionaire spent the year dealing with the spread of misinformation on the social network, and would eventually sit for a Congressional hearing about Section 230 protections

Over the summer, he just wanted to relax in Hawaii, away from the public eye. So he slathered an absurd amount of white sunscreen on his face in hopes of avoiding the paparazzi. It didn't work. 

Social media users immediately turned Zuckerberg's surfing photo into a meme, comparing his look with the Joker from the 1966 Batman TV show; Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation; and images of stereotypical French mimes.

"I really should have thought that one through more," he said, recalling the event during an Instagram Live discussion with the photo platform's CEO on Tuesday. "I noticed there was this paparazzi guy following us and, so I was like, 'Oh I don't want him to recognize me so you know what I'm gonna do? I'm just gonna put a ton of sunscreen on my face.' And that backfired."

a person with a frisbee in the snow: Slather it on. © Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Slather it on.

It sure did. 

The CEO said he has learned his lesson. 

"No one needs to be wearing that much sunscreen," he said, laughing at the memory. Zuckerberg said there's a "delta" between how cool you think you look while doing extreme sports and how silly you actually look when someone takes a photo of you. "I'm glad people can laugh about it," he said. "I laugh about it and I think it's pretty funny."

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