After receiving widespread criticism, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday he is "reconsidering" lawsuits he recently filed in Hawaii aimed at forcing families to sell ancestral lands within his vast estate.
"Based on feedback from the local community, we are reconsidering the quiet title process and discussing how to move forward," Zuckerberg said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "We want to make sure we are following a process that protects the interests of property owners, respects the traditions of native Hawaiians, and preserves the environment."
"We love Kauai," Zuckerberg continued. "We want to be good members of the community and preserve the land for generations to come."
Zuckerberg bought 700 acres of land on the island of Kauai in 2014 for $100 million. Within the property are 14 small parcels of land that were partitioned during the 1850s and have been passed down for generations by local families.
For privacy purposes, Zuckerberg brought lawsuits on Dec. 30 aimed at finding and forcing these descendants to sell their land at a court auction to the highest bidder.
The decision by one of the world's richest people to bring title actions against Hawaii families drew criticism from many, including neighbors, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, and state Rep. Kaniela Ing, who said he would introduce legislation that would help local families in similar situations in the future.
On Thursday, Zuckerberg had taken to Facebook to defend his lawsuits, calling reports about them “misleading.”
"Quiet title actions are nothing new. Landowners have been using the law for decades to clear title to property," Moses Haia, the Executive Director of Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, said to BuzzFeed News. "This has had a devastating effect on Hawaiians interests in and connection to ancestral lands."