By Chris White
Daily Caller News Foundation
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed speculation that he and President Donald Trump have come to an understanding in an interview published Monday.
“I’ve heard this speculation, too, so let me be clear: There’s no deal of any kind,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Axios published Monday.
He was addressing rumors that Facebook has held back on removing Trump’s content because Zuckerberg and the administration have a secret deal.
“Actually, the whole idea of a deal is pretty ridiculous,” Zuckerberg said.
The New York Times’s Ben Smith published a column June 21 in which he asked: “Did Mr. Trump and Mr. Zuckerberg reach some kind of accommodation?” Smith cited an October dinner between Zuckerberg, Trump, and Facebook board member Peter Thiel as reason to speculate about a potential deal.
Zuckerberg also responded to reports about the White House’s dinner invitation.
“I accepted the invite for dinner because I was in town and he is the president of the United States,” Zuckerberg told Axios. “For what it’s worth, I also had multiple meals and meetings with President Obama … both at the White House and outside, including hosting an event for him at Facebook HQ.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts railed against the Facebook CEO for dining with Trump.
“Amid antitrust scrutiny, Facebook is going on a charm offensive with Republican lawmakers,” Warren told her Twitter followers in a November 2019 tweet. “And now, Mark Zuckerberg and one of Facebook’s board members — a major Trump donor — had a secret dinner with Trump. This is corruption, plain and simple.”
Facebook has removed at least five of Trump’s ads since 2018 for copyright violations, among other issues, Axios reported. Zuckerberg also criticized the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in a July 17 Facebook live interview with Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Zuckerberg also recently dismissed the impact of an advertiser-led boycott targeting Facebook, reportedly telling staff during a June 26 meeting that he does not intend on changing policies because of pressure from outside groups.
“You know, we don’t technically set our policies because of any pressure that people apply to us,” Zuckerberg told employees, according to a July 2 report from The Information, which obtained a transcript of the meeting.
Advertisers have joined boycotts the company aimed at pressuring Facebook into applying more rigorous policies against hate speech and misinformation to Trump.
The White House declined to comment after the Daily Caller News Foundation reached out for comment.
This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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