Donald Trump’s White House meeting with Mark Zuckerberg quickly generated horror (and legitimate concern) from the masses. While there are still a lot of questions about that meeting that remain unanswered, which we’ll review below, Politico reports that Trump isn’t the only conservative the tech giant has been meeting with.
Zuckerberg has reportedly met up with conservative journalists, as well as at least one lawmaker, to talk about “free speech.” These conversations, reportedly held over dinner at Zuckerberg’s home in California, are off-the-record … but could have real-world implications.
As Politico reports, Zuckerberg has met with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, as well as Fox News host Tucker Carlson and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt. All of these people have, in the past, accused Facebook of being too big—or at least, too big and not right-leaning enough.
"I’m under no illusions that he’s a conservative but I think he does care about some of our concerns,” one person familiar with these private, off-the-record meetings said to Politico.
Who else has gotten a dinner invitation to Zuckerberg’s place? Politico reports Ben Shapiro, Mary Katharine Ham, Matt Continetti, Brent Bozell, and Guy Benson have all gone to these dinners, as confirmed by the person familiar with said events.
In spite of the fact that conservatives are convinced that Facebook (if not social media in general) is biased against them, they still spend a whole lot of money on advertising on the platforms. Trump, for example, spends a pretty million dollars per week on Facebook ads alone.
Zuckerberg’s September meeting with Trump has spurred much controversy—and for good reason. We still don’t know what, precisely, the Facebook CEO and president talked about, but we do know that shortly after their meeting, Facebook revealed an alarming new policy that it will not fact-check political ads. In an immediate and glaring example of why this is a huge problem, Facebook allowed an ad—paid for by Trump’s re-election campaign—that outright lies about former vice president and 2020 hopeful Joe Biden and Ukraine. It’s irresponsible, reckless, and sets a scary precedent.
It’s also not the norm. CNN, for example, refused to air the same ad. Even after the Biden team requested that Facebook take it down, the site refused.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also a 2020 hopeful, called out Zuckerberg and demanded transparency about his meeting with Trump. When that didn’t happen, Warren played by Facebook’s rules and took out an ad of her own, claiming that the Facebook CEO had endorsed Trump. That isn’t true (which the ad acknowledges) but plays into Zuckerberg’s games to make her point: It’s downright dangerous to give politicians a platform to lie without accountability. With these stakes, the line has to be a lot clearer—and accountability needs to be a much bigger topic of conversation.