Mark Zuckerberg’s security costs went up as Meta came under fire

Zuckerberg’s security costs in 2021 are many times those of peers where data is publicly available. — AFP

The cost of keeping Mark Zuckerberg safe keeps going up for Meta Platforms Inc, far outstripping what similar technology companies with high-profile executives are spending.

The social media giant, previously known as Facebook, spent more than US$15.2mil (RM64.35mil) in 2021 for expenses related to protecting its chief executive officer at his homes and during personal travel, according to a recent regulatory filing. That doesn’t include another US$10mil (RM42.34mil) given to Zuckerberg as a pretax allowance for his family’s security as well as US$1.6mil (RM6.77mil) for use of a private aircraft for personal travel.

In total, the company footed a security bill of US$26.8mil (RM113.47mil) for Zuckerberg, 37, and his family last year, a 6% increase from 2020. The filing attributed the higher costs to regular personal travel, protocols related to Covid-19 and market increases for security personnel. The arrangements comprise almost all of his compensation as he takes a US$1 (RM4.23) annual salary and doesn’t receive a bonus or equity awards.

Zuckerberg’s security costs in 2021 are many times those of peers where data is publicly available. Inc, for example, spent US$1.6mil (RM6.77mil) protecting chairman Jeff Bezos last year, while Tesla Inc doesn’t disclose any security costs associated with CEO Elon Musk.

Zuckerberg is “synonymous” with Meta amid increased media, legislative and regulatory attention, according to the filing, which said “negative sentiment regarding our company is directly associated with, and often transferred to, Mr Zuckerberg”.

In the past year, the company has come under scrutiny over the release of internal documents by whistleblower Frances Haugen that suggests Facebook prioritises profit over content moderation.

Meta also pays for security for other top leaders, including almost US$9mil (RM38.10mil) in 2021 to protect chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. That’s not including US$2.3mil (RM9.73mil) for Sandberg’s use of private aircraft for personal travel.

Starting in 2022, the company will also cover Zuckerberg’s personal travel on an aircraft owned by him and operated by a charter company.

“For travel by Mr Zuckerberg on the aircraft owned by Mr Zuckerberg, we pay an amount commensurate with market rates.” – Bloomberg

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