Petition for Zuckerberg to Stop 'Colonizing' Hawaii Island Doubles in a Day

A petition calling on Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to stop "colonizing" the Hawaiian island of Kauai with land deals doubled in 24 hours.

As of yesterday, a appeal naming the multi-billionaire social media boss had attracted over 150,000 signatures. Today, it was being supported by more than 378,000 users and rising quickly—well on the way to meeting its 500,000 target.

The petition is centered on legal action Zuckerberg that was filed against Hawaiians who owned small pockets of land close to his recently-acquired estates. The lawsuits were dropped in 2017, with the CEO saying he wanted to "find a better approach."

The CEO has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in responding to criticism of the Kauai land purchases, saying he will preserve national beauty and protect native wildlife.

Launched by a user named Mia Brier, the new petition argues that "the rich have enough already" and claims signing will "potentially save lives and families."

It reads: "Hawaiians are mistreated enough as is. We need to let them have this. Their land is important to them. He's building a mansion to what? Live in Kauai for two months out of the year? This is inhuman. It is sick. He needs to be stopped.

"There are plenty of open spaces no one has claimed yet he has to pick a place where people are trying to make a living and support their families? It's disgusting. Don't let the privileged steal things that don't belong to them any longer," it adds.

The Facebook founder reportedly coughed up more than $100 million for the land in 2014, hoping to develop a "700-acre sanctuary for his family," Forbes reported.

The first acquisition was the 393-acre Pila'a Beach, while the second was identified as the adjacent Kahu'aina Plantation, which reportedly spans another 357-acres.

In 2017, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the CEO had filed legal action against Hawaiian owners with pockets of land that had passed down through the generations— with up to eight lawsuits naming hundreds of people, some already dead.

His team used a legal tactic known as "quiet title and partition," which forces people who own undeveloped land to sell to the highest bidder at public auction.

In a statement to Newsweek yesterday, a spokesperson for Zuckerberg's family office rejected the fundamental premise of the growing petition.

"Mark is not suing native Hawaiians and no-one has been forced off of the land. At the beginning of 2017, Mark withdrew as a plaintiff from the process to clear title on the land he purchased in Kauai," the statement from the office read. "The property is used as a working ranch and family retreat, designed in partnership with local families and experts to help create and maintain sustainable agriculture activities while preserving its natural beauty and protecting native wildlife."

"Portions of the land are leased to local farmers and other portions are set aside as protective areas for endangered native species," it continued.

"The buildings on the land will cover about one percent of the land or less. Beyond the ranch, Mark and Priscilla have made commitments to Kauai charitable organizations that help to improve the island's education and health care systems, promote conservation and help to promote efforts to recover from flooding and COVID-19."

In January 2017, Zuckerberg addressed the land criticism on his personal Facebook account, writing that some stories circulating online were "misleading."

He wrote: "In each case, we worked with the majority owners of each property and reached a deal they thought was fair and wanted to make on their own. As with most transactions, the majority owners have the right to sell their land if they want, but we need to make sure smaller partial owners get paid for their fair share too.

"To find all these partial owners so we can pay them their fair share, we filed what is called a 'quiet title' action. For most of these folks, they will now receive money for something they never even knew they had. No one will be forced off the land."

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC Chip Somodevilla/Getty