NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The unflattering Hollywood movie portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network was the biggest winner at the box office over the weekend. It seems America likes seeing their billionaires being given the thumbs down. But it's not just Zuckerberg who is coming in for some billionaire criticism.
Facebook's Zuckerberg has been in the news of late, and not just because of the unflattering celluloid portrait provided by
The Social Network. Zuckerberg also recently made the list of the richest Americans, the Forbes 400. At No. 35 on the Forbes 400, Zuckerberg passed old media tycoon Rupert Murdoch of
(NWSA - Get Report).
All that sudden social media wealth was a problem for Zuckerberg, and with the Forbes list making his wealth prominent and The Social Network making his road to acquiring that wealth a subject of controversy, Zuckerberg launched himself into the world of billionaire giving.
On the same day that the Forbes 400 was revealed, and a week before America became a fan of the The Social Network, Zuckerberg announced a $100 million donation to Newark's public school system. Zuckerberg didn't play the part of the big-hearted billionaire in quiet, but with media fanfare, appearing on Oprah to announce the donation.Zuckerberg's two-sided public face -- one the negative movie profile and the other the glowing angle offered by the Facebook founder's philanthropic giving -- posed an old question about the big-hearted billionaires. Are the charitable aims of the world's richest individuals a true sign of generosity or a sloughing off the immense guilt that comes with extracting such an outsized percentage of global income? In the least, is billionaire giving to be taken at face value as coming from big-hearted individuals regardless of the bigness of wallet, or are gifts the likes of which Facebook's Zuckerberg made merely an attempt to curry favor with the public?