Why is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg the top US philanthropist?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy says Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated almost a billion dollars to charity in 2013. 

Mark Zuckerberg – pictured here in a doodle on the wall at Facebook HQ in California – and his wife, Priscilla Chan, top a new list of American philanthropists.

Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, physician Priscilla Chan, donated just shy of a billion dollars to charity in 2013, earning the top spot on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of most generous Americans. 

The Philanthropy 50, as the list is known, takes into account only gifts made to organizations that have received charity or foundation status from the IRS. According to the Chronicle, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Chan "gave 18 million shares of Facebook, valued at about $992.2 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, in Mountain View, Calif. They donated the same number of shares in Facebook to the fund in 2012." 

The Americans included on the Philanthropy 50 donated a combined $7.7 billion to charities in 2013, the Chronicle says. 

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that Warren Buffett, who led the 2012 list, didn't make the list this time around. Neither did deep-pocketed philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates. That's because their 2013 donations were counted as pledges, writes Donna Gordon Blankinship of The Associated Press:

For example, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, gave their foundation slightly more than $181.3 million last year, but they were paying off a pledge of about $3.3 billion they made in 2004. CNN-founder Ted Turner and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett also made large gifts toward previous pledges.

The No. 2 donor on the 2013 chart is the fracking pioneering George Mitchell, although Mr. Mitchell died last July; his $750 million in donations are listed as a bequest. 

In related news, Facebook has released a free iOS and Android app called Paper, which works a little like the popular Flipboard – you can browse stories or status updates, or click through personalized news channels. So far, reviewers have been kind. "[T]he software developers at Facebook got the big things right, and they have built an app that informs and delights. Facebook was already quite good, but it’s even better on Paper," Hiawatha Bray of The Boston Globe recently wrote

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