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Happy birthday, Facebook: How Facebook's father is popularizing paternity
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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has used the social media site to popularize paternity. - photo by Lindsey Williams
February 4 was Facebook's 12th birthday. For Facebook, 2015 meant a 44 percent increase in revenue and a 17 percent increase in the number of daily users, according to The Verge.

But for Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 2015 also meant increasing the size of his family.

Maxima, who goes by Max, was born in November to Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. As Zuckerberg publicly shared his journey of becoming a father, he received some praise and some criticism.

Shining a light on miscarriages

In July 2015, Zuckerberg announced on Facebook that his wife was pregnant. He also shared that his wife had three miscarriages over the last two years.

Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you as if you're defective or did something to cause this, Zuckerberg wrote in his post. So you struggle on your own.

A 2013 study published by Obstetrics & Gynecology surveyed over 1,000 people about how often they thought miscarriages occurred. Over half of the respondents believed miscarriages happen in fewer than 5 percent of pregnancies.

Forbes reported miscarriages happen in 25 percent of pregnancies, a higher number than respondents believed.

Jodi F. Abbott and Eugene Declercq published an article on CNN praising Zuckerberg and Chan's decision to discuss their miscarriages.

The decision of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to share this very personal experience is a valuable step forward in starting a public discussion about the issue," Abbott and Declercq wrote. We need to raise awareness that pregnancy loss is part of millions of women's reproductive lives. Women don't have to feel devastated and alone when they experience such a loss.

Paternity leave

Prior to Maxs birth, Zuckerberg announced on Facebook that he would take two months of paternity leave after the birth of his daughter.

Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families, Zuckerberg wrote.

The Washington Post reported that Zuckerbergs move to take two months off is a rare occurrence. A study of California parents found that fathers who use paternity leave take an average of 7.5 days off.

According to The Washington Post, Zuckerbergs decision to take paternity leave could affect how other men view paternity leave.

One study, using Norwegian data, found that men were significantly more likely to take paternity leave if they had a brother or co-worker who did so, The Washington Post reported. The peer effect was 2.5 times larger when the peer father was the senior manager in a firm as opposed to a regular co-worker.

Netflix offers up to one year of paid parental leave to its employees. Casey Rosenthal, an engineering manager at Netflix, wrote about his experience taking paternity leave on LinkedIn.

Rosenthal is following in the footsteps of other new tech dads, like Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who are actually going public with their paternity leaves, The Huffington Post reported. They're helping spread the message that paternity leave is a good thing and that it won't kill your career.

Vaccinations for Max

During his paternity leave, Zuckerberg posted pictures of his daughter. One picture that received a lot of attention was a photo he posted at the doctors office with Max before she got her vaccinations.

Some people interpreted the post as lauding vaccinations. The photo sparked a debate, receiving over 98,000 comments.

Vaccine is poison for human kind, Elza Sakz wrote on the post. It kills more people than it helps. I wish people dont take it as an example here.

Other people praised Zuckerberg for choosing to vaccinate his child.

As a practicing pediatrician, thank you for your public support of the safety and efficacy of vaccines, Cory Bean commented. As a parent, Ill warn you of the possibility of a grumpy baby for a day or two.

Popularizing fatherhood

With over 48 million followers, Zuckerbergs Facebook posts have the potential to reach many people. As Zuckerberg has stepped into his role as a father, he has shared glimpses of his parenting, from changing diapers to Maxs first time in the pool.

Doyin Richards, a writer for Upworthy and blogger, told Mashable that through his social media reach, Zuckerberg is able to promote fatherhood.

"Hes a man who is embracing fatherhood and showing it to his millions of followers," Richards told Mashable. "Hes able to do a lot of good to say, 'Even a billionaire CEO can change diapers, and everyday dads can still get down and dirty and handle a blowout.' Thats a beautiful thing we should all embrace."

Josh Levs, a former CNN correspondent who was denied paternal leave, told Fortune that fathers like Zuckerberg are proving that manly men can be dads.

Were in a new era now where men are saying in a public way, If you are a dad, then being a committed and involved dad is the manliest thing you will ever do, Levs told Fortune.
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