On Friday, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan announced that their charitable organization, The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, will be partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to donate $25 million to fund possible COVID-19 treatments.
Chan told Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” that the partnership will create a “therapeutics accelerator to fight coronavirus” — essentially a group that will screen drugs demonstrating potential effects against the novel coronavirus.
Upon hearing the announcement, British data journalist Mona Chalabi received a message asking “isn’t this a tiny fraction of their wealth? Chalabi, who frequently creates visual content demystifying data and statistics, wondered: “how can I make this easy to understand?”
She responded to the announcement with a TikTok video revealing that the massive donation represents just 0.03 percent of the tech mogul’s wealth.
In the clip, captioned “0.03% baby” Chalabi models Zuckerberg’s donation as a percentage of his estimated net worth. To the tune of Cardi B’s “Money,” she extracts a small fraction of green liquid from a nine-ounce glass — labeled 81 billion to represent Zuckerberg’s estimated wealth — and deposits it in an empty cup for comparison.
The demonstration, she told Insider, was actually “a generous depiction of [Zuckerberg’s] stinginess.” In the video, she extracted a little over 0.3 percent of the liquid rather than 0.03 percent — meaning Zuckerberg’s donation was ten times smaller than she made it look.
0.03% baby!♬ Money – Cardi B
The clip went viral after Chalabi posted it on Twitter, receiving nearly 150,000 likes and 4,000 comments in two days.
“Are you under the impression he has that amount sitting in a savings account? The bulk of it is stock valuation, which he cannot cash in without losing control of his company,” one Twitter user wrote. “The actual cash he has available for his own desires is a different story.”
“Wealthy people don’t hold their wealth in cash. Cash loses value over time…” another added.
“How much twisting yourself into a pretzel are you going to do to paint this false picture of how hard the 1% has it at keeping their wealth?” one commenter responded.
“My $15 donation via the Bernie campaign was a greater percentage of my net worth,” another wrote.
Chalabi said she’s received some online harassment since posting the video, which doesn’t surprise her. However, she didn’t expect some of the comments in the billionaire’s defense.
“I am surprised at how many people seem keen to defend a billionaire. So many replies asked ‘how much have you donated??’ which completely misses the point about how power works,” she said. “Firstly, Zuckerberg clearly has more power to have an enormous impact and save lives. Secondly (if you really want to go there) I’ve already donated a greater share of my money than he has!”
Chalabi has previously posted content addressing the financial component of the coronavirus pandemic, most recently uploading a graphic that breaks down why she thinks the $1,200 stimulus payments set to be sent to Americans aren’t sufficient aid for individuals earning up to $75,000 a year.
“I want to inform!” she explained of her decision to post content relating to the pandemic. “I think given that our collective health currently depends so much on individual behavior, that feels especially important right now!