Notoriously reserved and stilted in public, the Facebook CEO opened up for a lengthy profile in the New Yorker. File Image IOL

INTERNATIONAL - Mark Zuckerberg's zealous competitive nature and odd obsession with Caesar Augustus have been revealed.

Notoriously reserved and stilted in public, the Facebook CEO opened up for a lengthy profile in the New Yorker, as his company faces tough questions about free speech and election interference.

In one example of Zuckerberg's obsession with winning games, several years ago he was playing Scrabble with a friend's high school-aged daughter during a trip on a corporate jet.

Incensed when the girl beat him, Zuckerberg wrote a computer program on the spot that would allow him to enter the letters he had available and look up all possible words. 

'Everyone around us was taking sides: Team Human and Team Machine,' the girl told the magazine. When the plane landed, ending the game prematurely, Zuckerberg had a slight lead.

Zuckerberg, 34, and his wife Priscilla Chan prefer board games to television and keep a game called Ricochet Robots in their living room.

'It gets extremely competitive,' Zuckerberg told the magazine. 'We play with these friends, and one of them is a genius at this. Playing with him is just infuriating.' 

Dave Morin, a former Facebook employee who is now the CEO of a startup seeking cures for depression, spoke of playing the strategy board game Risk with Zuckerberg.

According to Morin, Zuckerberg would experiment aggressively with game strategies, amassing all of his armies in one territory one game, and spreading them out in another.

'He's not playing you in a game of Risk. He's playing you in a game of games,' Morin told the magazine. 'He's trying to figure out the psychological way to beat you in all the games.'

The profile also revealed Zuckerberg's deep obsession with Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of Rome.

Zuckerberg spent much of his 2012 honeymoon in Rome dragging wife Priscilla between statues of Augustus for photos.

'My wife was making fun of me, saying she thought there were three people on the honeymoon: me, her, and Augustus. All the photos were different sculptures of Augustus,' Zuckerberg said.

The couple even named their second daughter August.

Augustus, born in 63 BC, assumed power at age 18 and ruled with an iron fist, dissolving the Roman Republic and establishing the Roman Empire through the conquest of Egypt, Spain and large swathes of central Europe. 

His reign launched the 200 years of relative peace known as the Pax Romana.

'Basically, through a really harsh approach, he established two hundred years of world peace,' Zuckerberg explained approvingly. 

'What are the trade-offs in that?' Zuckerberg continued animatedly. 'On the one hand, world peace is a long-term goal that people talk about today. Two hundred years feels unattainable.' 

On the other hand, he said, 'that didn't come for free, and he had to do certain things.' 

Zuckerberg has come under mounting criticism in recent years, with controversies including allegations that the Russian government used Facebook to spread propaganda during the 2016 election, the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, and mounting disputes about free speech on the platform.

In response to the stress, wife Priscilla says he practices the German technique of Sitzfleisch, sitting and working for long periods.

'He'd actually sit so long that he froze up his muscles and injured his hip,' she said. 

-DAILY MAIL