SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg celebrated his 31st birthday at a town hall in which he took questions from the public including one about his wardrobe: What will the Facebook CEO wear when he’s 80 and T-shirts and hoodies look silly on him?
Zuckerberg, clad in his customary jeans and gray T-shirt, says he just doesn’t like wasting time trying to decide what to wear so he will likely find some other utilitarian garb more appropriate for his advanced age.
“The philosophy is that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fashion as you can see,” he said.
“Maybe I’ll wear like a unitard, or a one-piece,” he said before deciding a unitard wasn’t quite right.
“A onesie?” he then pondered. “Who knows what kind of incredibly unfashionable thing I’ll have found.”
That was just one of the lighter moments for Zuckerberg at Thursday’s town hall. It was his sixth such event taking questions from the public about himself and Facebook.
Asked about his birthday plans with wife Priscilla, Zuckerberg said he planned to have a quiet dinner at home, confessing an extreme aversion to birthday celebrations.
“I’m a low-key birthday person,” he said. “I get too much attention the rest of the time.”
When he turned 30, he says he flew across country to avoid a celebration only to be surprised by a conference room filled with balloons when he returned. So he refused to clear out the conference room and held meetings there all day, some of them not entirely pleasant. He said it was “ridiculous” dressing down employees while they were up to their waists in balloons.
Among the other subjects Zuckerberg tackled:
— Diversity in Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg says Facebook wants its employees to reflect the population the company serves. So it’s heavily recruiting women and underrepresented minorities. “We have the same talent bar for everyone,” he said. “But we want to find a disproportionate number of candidates who are women and minorities.” He also talked about the importance of getting more people interested in computer science.
— On encouraging kids to play with computers. Zuckerberg advised parents: “Letting them play around with stuff is one of the best things you can do.” Growing up in upstate New York, Zuckerberg said he played video games as a child and he built them, too. When his sisters wouldn’t have a snowball fight with him, he created a snowball fighting video game. “It was a terrible game,” he confessed. But building the games got him into computer programming, Zuckerberg said.
“I do think this dynamic around kids growing up, building games and playing games, is an important one because I think this is how a lot of kids get into programming,” he said. “I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I had not played games as a kid.”
He says encouraging kids to build games could get more women and minorities into programming.
“Most of the engineers I know, who are some of the best engineers in the world, are self-taught,” he said. “We need to work on this to get more exposure out to people.”
— Ukraine. More than 45,000 people asked Zuckerberg to address the removal of posts and blocking of accounts related to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Ukrainians were asking for better content moderation and Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, himself asked for Facebook to open an office in Ukraine.
Zuckerberg said some of the posts that were removed contained “hate speech” in violation of Facebook’s community standards.
“We don’t allow content that is overtly hateful, contains ethnic slurs, or incites violence. There were a few posts that tripped that rule, and I think we did the right thing according to our policies by taking down that content,” he said.
As for putting an office in Ukraine? “It’s something we might consider in the future,” he said.
— Oculus. Zuckerberg says the goal for Oculus is to make the headset look more like “normal glasses” than goggles or “big headsets.”
He’s especially looking forward to the potential for augmented reality, he said, where you are in the real world but can also look at digital items such as photo album. The virtual reality headset is set to launch in the first quarter of 2016. But augmented reality will take years, Zuckerberg said.
“It’s going to take five, seven, 10, maybe 12 years to build that out, to have something that really works and is cheap enough for everyone around the world to use,” he said.
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