Amid an enormous firm pivot, a monthlong press cycle and rising requires regulation, Mark Zuckerberg needs everybody to know he has a humorousness.

In an 80-minute keynote presentation saying his firm’s identify change — from Facebook to Meta — and a shift away from conventional social networking, the 37-year-old chief govt made certain to insert a longstanding gag that his workers and followers would admire: a bottle of barbecue sauce.

Eagle-eyed watchers knew that this wasn’t simply any condiment standing on the bookshelf behind Mr. Zuckerberg. It was Sweet Baby Ray’s, the tangy grocery retailer staple that’s been elevated to meme standing ever for the reason that Facebook founder talked about it in a now notorious 2016 video a minimum of 11 occasions whereas “smoking meats” in his yard. He was poking enjoyable at himself.

While Mr. Zuckerberg has struggled to make himself appear empathetic and relatable, he and his military of press handlers appear to have discovered that a little bit self-deprecation goes a great distance in making a person value $116 billion look a bit extra regular. They’ve made a yearslong effort to rehabilitate his picture — one which’s been outlined by onstage meltdowns, bizarre declarations and fixed firm crises. Just like his firm, Mr. Zuckerberg appears eager to go away the previous behind.

And so, for a couple of hours on Thursday, a minimum of, individuals have been speaking about Mr. Zuckerberg — not as an omnipotent C.E.O. whose firm has supplied a platform to undermine elections, unfold misinformation and incite violence, however as a fairly cool man.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to remark for this text.

Sweet Baby Ray’s has turn out to be enmeshed in firm lore ever since Mr. Zuckerberg made his love for the sauce identified on a 2016 livestream video that has been memed into oblivion. In weekly companywide Q. and A. periods with workers, references to the barbecue sauce typically come up together with different inside jokes, together with the chief govt’s love for McDonald’s spicy hen nuggets and his obsession with proudly owning goats.

In April, amid a bigger effort to shift his posting away from addressing accusations in regards to the firm’s function in spreading misinformation and hate speech, Mr. Zuckerberg posted a photograph of a grocery retailer sale of his favourite barbecue sauce, calling it “my kind of deal.”

The Sweet Baby Ray’s cameo in Thursday’s presentation was value greater than $2 million in media mentions inside 24 hours, in keeping with Apex Marketing Group, a model consulting agency primarily based exterior of Detroit. (A Sweet Baby Ray’s spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for remark.)

That wasn’t the one Easter egg that Face— er, Meta caught within the presentation.

At one level within the stream, Mr. Zuckerberg appeared at a desk with a bottle of sunscreen sitting atop it and a surfboard leaning towards the wall behind him.

Understand the Facebook Papers

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A tech large in hassle. The leak of inner paperwork by a former Facebook worker has supplied an intimate look on the operations of the secretive social media firm and renewed requires higher rules of the corporate’s extensive attain into the lives of its customers.

The whistle-blower. During an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Oct. 3, Frances Haugen, a Facebook product supervisor who left the corporate in May, revealed that she was answerable for the leak of these inner paperwork.

Ms. Haugen’s testimony in Congress. On Oct. 5, Ms. Haugen testified earlier than a Senate subcommittee, saying that Facebook was prepared to make use of hateful and dangerous content material on its website to maintain customers coming again. Facebook executives, together with Mark Zuckerberg, known as her accusations unfaithful.

The Facebook Papers. Ms. Haugen additionally filed a criticism with the Securities and Exchange Commission and supplied the paperwork to Congress in redacted kind. A congressional employees member then provided the paperwork, generally known as the Facebook Papers, to a number of information organizations, together with The New York Times.

The objects have been a callback to a photograph that circulated final yr of Mr. Zuckerberg on the excessive seas in Hawaii, his face lined in a heavy serving to of zinc sunscreen whereas driving a motorized hydrofoil.

That {photograph}, Mr. Zuckerberg later mentioned in an Instagram Live video, was an try to cover from paparazzi. It had the other impact.

Following an indication of Meta’s deliberate growth into video video games, Mr. Zuckerberg made a verbal nod to his lathered up face: A gaming opponent, within the video, asks if he needs to play once more. “Maybe later,” Mr. Zuckerberg replies. “I’m going to need a lot more sunscreen, though.”

As shops proceed to publish tales primarily based on hundreds of leaked paperwork from an organization whistle-blower, an organization identify change and some jokes are unlikely to erase Meta’s previous. But they might assist undermine the general public notion that Mr. Zuckerberg can’t take a little bit ribbing.

In one a part of yesterday’s presentation, his avatar tried to take a seat all the way down to a digital card recreation with a gaggle of pals. One of them had chosen their digital presence to be a robotic.

“I thought I was supposed to be the robot,” Mr. Zuckerberg quipped.


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