Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg denied that he made a secret agreement with former President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to avoid fact-checking political speech, according to New York Magazine.
Max Chafkin, the author of the new Peter Thiel biography “The Contrarian,” reported that Thiel and Zuckerberg held secret talks with Trump, Kushner, and their spouses at the White House in 2019 when Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress.
Thiel later told a confidant that Zuckerberg “came to an understanding with Kushner during the meal.”
“Facebook, he promised, would continue to avoid fact-checking political speech — thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted,” Chafkin wrote. “If the company followed through on that promise, the Trump administration would lay off on any heavy-handed regulations.”
After the dinner, Zuckerberg took a “hands-off approach” to conservative sites.
Facebook later included the Steve Bannon-founded Breitbart on its list of “deeply reported and well-sourced” news outlets.
Zuckerberg denied that he made any deal with Trump, calling the idea “pretty ridiculous.”
The Wrap noted that the policy was announced before the dinner took place.
The book describes the dinner as having taken place in October 2019 but Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, announced that the company would not fact-check political speech in September 2019.
Clegg during his announcement said that the policy had already been in place for a year.
Facebook later reversed:
Facebook in June announced it would change the policy and subject politicians’ posts to its harmful speech guidelines.
The company said that it would no longer presume that politicians’ posts are newsworthy and subject them to rules banning harassment, discrimination, and other harmful speech.
The change came after the company banned Trump over his role in the January 6 Capitol riot.
Trump has since filed a dubious lawsuit accusing Facebook, a private company, of violating his First Amendment rights, which only protect speech from the government.