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Mark Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits To Force Hundreds of Hawaiians To Sell Him Land (theguardian.com) 75

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg filed a lawsuit to force owners of several small parcels of land to sell to the highest bidder since these property owners are surrounded by Zuckerberg's land holdings and therefore have lawful easement to cross his private property. Ever since the story broke, Zuckerberg has faced major backlash from people all over the world, especially those living on the Hawaiian islands. On Wednesday, said he was "reconsidering" the set of lawsuits; today he announced that he will drop the lawsuits altogether. The Guardian reports: "Upon reflection, I regret that I did not take the time to fully understand the quiet title process and its history before we moved ahead," Zuckerberg wrote. "Now that I understand the issues better, it's clear we made a mistake." The process is controversial in Hawaii, where many view it as a tool of dispossession first employed by sugar barons, but later adopted by the wealthy malihini (newcomers) seeking vacation homes. Hawaii state representative Kaniela Ing, who emerged as one of the key critics of the lawsuits, said that he was "happy" and "humbled" by Zuckerberg's announcement. "It's not everyday where you face off with one of the most influential billionaires, best PR professionals and best attorneys in the world and win," he said. "It's a victory for everyone who shared the story on social media, for native Hawaiians, and for people everywhere. The parcels at stake in the Zuckerberg case were kuleana -- land granted to native Hawaiians in the 1850s after land was privatized for the first time in Hawaii -- contained within the boundaries of his 700-acre, $100m estate. Kuleana lands are especially important, law professor Kapua Sproat explained to the Guardian, because native Hawaiians view land as an "ancestor" or family member, rather than as a possession. "We understand that for native Hawaiians, kuleana are sacred and the quiet title process can be difficult," he wrote. "We want to make this right, talk with the community, and find a better approach." The CEO promised to hold discussion with "community leaders" representing native Hawaiians and environmentalists, and added that he is "looking for more ways to support the community as neighbors."
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Mark Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits To Force Hundreds of Hawaiians To Sell Him Land

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  • by nwaack ( 3482871 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @06:43PM (#53751837)
    "Upon reflection, I was being a douche and an assclown. Sorry...my bad."
    • by x0ra ( 1249540 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @06:47PM (#53751873)
      > "Upon reflection, I got caught by the same social media I helped develop. It's getting difficult to be a billionaire prick these day..."

      FTFY.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        It's getting difficult to be a billionaire prick these day..."

        Maybe, but I think I could manage it.

      • "After hiring the best PR professionals in the world and thereafter upon reflection, I decided to release this quite nauseating statement".
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      No, he was just following the rules and rights one expects of the laws of the US and most US states.

      The problem is that he did not realize that Hawaii is a place where normal rule of law is not really obeyed, or it is ignored depending on if you are a certain color/race, and you cannot depend on your rights being upheld because you'll get yelled at for antagonising other certain colors/races -- which you cannot defend against out loud because it's politically incorrect.
      • The problem is that he did not realize that Hawaii is a place where normal rule of law is not really obeyed

        The problem is that ordinary Americans did not realize that Wall Street is a place where normal rule of law is not really obeyed.

        Just think of the last line of the "Pledge to the Flag": ". . . one Nation, under God, with Freedom and Justice for the rich."

        If it wasn't for those meddling Hawaiian Kids, their goofy dog, the "Mystery Machine" and that damned social media platform, nobody would have heard of this, and Da Zuck would have gotten away with it.

        So he has done a 180 because of all the attention no

      • What would be correct would be to invite members of the tribe to come build a village on the land, thus insuring yourself of having a tourist attraction AND a ready-to-work labor force (unemployment among native hawaiians is high- as is homelessness)

      • by sudon't ( 580652 )

        The problem is that he did not realize that Hawaii is a place where normal rule of law is not really obeyed, or it is ignored depending on if you are a certain color/race, and you cannot depend on your rights being upheld because you'll get yelled at for antagonising other certain colors/races -- which you cannot defend against out loud because it's politically incorrect.

        Right. He didn't understand that the "normal rule of law" that he's used to was imposed upon a culture with an entirely different view of property. Sadly, this is still causing problems for the conquerers since, on the whole, they've become a little more aware of these things. But now, the environment may once again become more conducive to cultural imperialism.

    • > "Upon reflection, one of my many cases of being a douche and an assclown has been exposed. Sorry, my bad, will prevent such exposure in the future."
      FTFY.

    • "Upon reflection, I was being a douche and an assclown. Sorry...my bad."

      That's one way to look at it and I'm not saying it's wrong. That he and his staff didn't do due diligence up front is
      another way to look at it. There are probably aspects of both ideas operating here.

      What I don't think he or his staff tumbled to is how complex things are in Hawai`i, and that goes up by orders of magnitude when you start talking about land rights and title. Direct ownership of land was never a Hawaiian concept, but it more or less started in 1848 with "The Great Mahele" distrbution of land a

      • Follow-up. He's been using a Hawaiian law firm. He had to have been warned. There's no way they wouldn't have realized the consequences.

        But in today's Honolulu Star Advertiser, Z. is getting praised for rethinking his strategy.

    • I will now have some lawyers create a large number of shell companies, all interlinked, but with to real purpose, but impossible to determine who owns what, and pursue the lawsuits using those shell companies, so I can't be directly linked to the lawsuits.

  • he got a taste of his own sense of "justice".
  • by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @06:45PM (#53751855)

    Now that I understand the issues better, it's clear we made a mistake.

    This just sounds like someone trying to spread the blame.

    Why couldn't he just say "I made a mistake" ?

    • by TodPunk ( 843271 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @07:25PM (#53752101) Homepage

      He's responding because it's a Facebook PR problem, a brand issue, not an actual mistake made by anyone involved. Even this headline is just inflammatory. He's not "suing" anyone in the sense that word conveys at all. He's not taking their land against their will either. He simply can't contact the owner and ask them to sell, because he has to go through the court to figure out who even owns the thing because the owner likely doesn't even know. This situation isn't that uncommon in land real estate either, but for some reason the internet got a hold of poorly worded "issues" and got out the pitchforks.

      I say the internet because that's what happened, but this sort of thing has happened before when papers reported things in odd ways, or a protester had some misleading language in a pamphlet or whatever. It's not unique to the internet. We just seem to do it a lot /more/ now with the proliferation of information and editors/writers with poor reasoning skills.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      I dunno, it sounds pretty plausible to me.

      Imagine you're a billionaire, and you decide to drop what for you is pocket change on your own personal, private slice of paradise. Your lawyer inform you that there's a problem with isolated plots inside your new land, but he can make it go away. And he's right, from a strictly legal point of view. You bring a quiet title action, pay everyone fair market compensation and as far as the law is concerned everything is settled.

      What your lawyer isn't telling you is tha

      • It still doesn't absolve him from being ignorant about his own dealings. Yeah, he has people to do these things for him so that he doesn't have to worry about it. I can understand that. But then, once he knew that a mistake had been made, he should have take responsibility. He's the guy in charge, not his lawyers. It's like asking a computer to do something and then spreading the blame to the computer when it obeys you to the letter.

    • by ems2004 ( 814056 )
      He is preparing for future run for a public office so did not want to have a heavy baggage..
  • Parse error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @06:54PM (#53751913)

    I parsed
    "Mark Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits To Force Hundreds of Hawaiians To Sell Him Land"
    as
    "Mark Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits (To Force Hundreds of Hawaiians To Sell Him Land)"
    instead of
    "Mark Zuckerberg Drops (Lawsuits To Force Hundreds of Hawaiians To Sell Him Land)"

    Can the title really be undestood both ways?

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @06:55PM (#53751919) Journal
    Wouldn't you just hire a property lawyer and figure this out before you purchase the land?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TodPunk ( 843271 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @07:27PM (#53752113) Homepage

      This was a step in that process. Ignore the inflamed language in TFA, it's inaccurate and makes this out to be something it's not. Most of the lands have been purchased and the ones he can't find the owner to make a deal with he has to go through the court system to work out. Seems boring when we put it that way.

  • This is just another example of the greed and avarice of the wealthy. Zuckerberg is no different than any other billionaire. Just another rich asshole.
  • I only heard of this recently...

    What I heard is many Hawaiians were claiming this as their own rightful land since it was deeded to their ancestors who never sold it and let's face it - the US screwed Hawaii "bigly" to take them over and make them a state.

    I saw a news report about it a couple of weeks ago and I have no concept of 700 acres. I grew up on a lot that was about a half-acre, so 1400 times the size of my suburban childhood home's front and back yards?

    700 acres is 283 hectares. Nope, that muddl

    • Maybe Zuck anticipated a fight no matter where he bought property and that property is worth fighting for.

      The fight is not over the 700 acres that he actually bought*. It is over 8 acres that he did NOT buy, but wants to own so that he can have one huge private place all to himself without having to allow anyone else an easement to get to the property they own.

      I am high, but if I were him, I would buy a small plot of land in the middle of it

      Is 700 acres not large enough to do that?

      I would manipulate the lava flows so they cut off access to anyone who didn't have a helicopter to get there.

      Is it not an even douche-baggier thing to do to dump lava onto someone else's property to keep them off of it, than to buy up every piece of surrounding property and try to prevent their access by blocking the ease

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        Is it not an even douche-baggier thing to do to dump lava onto someone else's property to keep them off of it, than to buy up every piece of surrounding property and try to prevent their access by blocking the easements that are required to prevent just such a thing?

        It seems like a common thing for rich douche-bags to attempt to commandeer public property like...

        * Vinod Khosla [mercurynews.com] (martin's beach), or
        * Warren Lent, Simon/Daniel Mani, and David Geffen [pjmedia.com] (malibu beach)

        It's not stretch for rich douche-bags to think they can outspend/outlawyer a lowly citizen...

        FWIW this shit happens all the time. Sadly I got to see this when I was young, when my father bought some property to build a house, but unbeknownst to us at the time, a big real-estate developer who was mad that he didn'

  • I recently visited Hawaii for the first time a few months ago for business purposes. I ended up staying on the main island (Oahu) in Waikiki for a week which from my observation was the main tourist area ?

    Once you get out of the cities and on the interstate(?) the island is very beautiful. I really enjoyed all the scenery, the fauna and terrain were a spectacle to gaze upon and were unlike anything my eyes have seen before. Really enjoyed the various tunnels and elevated highways that run along the mountain

  • by Toad-san ( 64810 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @10:14PM (#53752797)

    to admit he made a mistake.

    Good for ya, Zuckenberg.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      to admit he made a mistake.

      Would he have done the same thing if there were no negative publicity?

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