Zuckerberg meets Trump at White House with Facebook on the defensive

Naomi Nix, Rebecca Kern and Steven T. Dennis, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg met with President Donald Trump on Thursday as he tried to sway Congress and policymakers who have been critical of the practices of the social media platform.

Zuckerberg had a constructive meeting with the president at the White House, according to a Facebook spokesman. Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, attended the meeting, along with Dan Scavino, the president's social media director, according to a person familiar with the matter.

His meetings on Capitol Hill, however, grew testy as he clashed with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley over his company's record on privacy and safeguarding user data.

"I said to him, 'Prove that you are serious about data, sell WhatsApp, and sell Instagram.' That's what they should do," Hawley said to reporters after meeting with Zuckerberg in Washington on Thursday. "I think it's safe to say he was not receptive to those suggestions."

Zuckerberg is in the nation's capital defending his company's practices to some of his harshest critics over their concerns that he isn't taking strong enough action to prevent voter manipulation on the platform ahead of the 2020 presidential election, along with criticisms over the company's handling of user data and curbing online violence.

Hawley said he had a "very frank discussion" with Zuckerberg on the company's record on privacy and political bias and said he thinks Facebook should be subject to independent audits of its content reviews. Hawley said he also pressed Zuckerberg for "a wall" between Facebook and its other platforms and Zuckerberg said no.


Facebook is creating an oversight board to review what content should be policed and just released a charter outlining more details about the group earlier this week.

Zuckerberg's visit to the capital also included dinner Wednesday with Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, along with other lawmakers.

"Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged that self-regulation is not going to cut it," Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said to Bloomberg Television. "I think he realizes that the status quo and the days of the wild, wild West are over."

Warner helped organize the dinner with lawmakers at Facebook's request, according to Rachel Cohen, a Warner spokeswoman. They discussed a wide range of issues "including the role and responsibility of social media platforms in protecting our democracy, and what steps Congress should take to defend our elections, protect consumer data, and encourage competition in the social media space," Cohen said in a statement.


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