Zuckerberg denies quid pro quo with Trump

Mark Zuckerberg
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is denying a claim that he made an agreement with the Trump administration in 2019 that the company wouldn't fact-check political posts in exchange for avoiding "heavy-handed regulations."

On Monday, New York magazine published an excerpt from an upcoming book about billionaire Peter Thiel, who serves on Facebook's board of directors and who the book describes as Zuckerberg's "trusted confidant" and "political ally." The excerpt includes reporting about a 2019 meeting that took place at the White House between Thiel, Zuckerberg, then-President Donald Trump, and Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

"The specifics of the discussion were secret — but, as I report in my book, Thiel later told a confidant that Zuckerberg came to an understanding with Kushner during the meal," author Max Chafkin reports. "Facebook, he promised, would avoid fact-checking po­litical speech — thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted. In return the Trump administra­tion would lay off on any heavy-handed regulations."

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The book says that an "understanding" was brokered during this meeting that Facebook would push "state-sanctioned conservatism," as the Thiel confidant reportedly put it. Zuckerberg has defended not fact-checking political speech on Facebook by saying he wanted the platform to avoid being the "arbiters of truth." Facebook controversially left up a post by Trump in 2020 saying "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" amid Black Lives Matters protests, though the platform later suspended Trump for his posts surrounding the Capitol riot.

Zuckerberg dismissed the reported agreement, calling the idea "pretty ridiculous." Read more at New York.

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