Zuckerberg’s secret deal with the Trump administration | Information age
Zuckerberg appearing on CNBC to discuss the claims of fact-checking politicians. Photo: CNBC / YouTube
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has denied claims that a deal with former President Donald Trump meant the social media giant would forgo fact-checking while Trump was in the White House.
In return, the Trump administration would not strongly regulate social media.
The explosive claims were made in an excerpt from a new bio on venture capitalist Peter Thiel, which was published Monday by New York Magazine.
Thiel, who is a co-founder of PayPal, has a reputation for paying no taxes and being a conservative tech billionaire.
The book, written by American author and journalist Max Chafkin, set out the deal in its excerpt from “The Contrarian: Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power”, which was released this week.
The book claims that Zuckerberg made a secret deal with former senior adviser to President Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law.
The alleged deal was that the social media platform would overlook political fact-checking posts if the Trump administration did not impose “strict regulations” on social media.
Donald Trump is spreading disinformation on Facebook. Photo: Shutterstock
Discussions of the explosive secret deal have been circulating on Twitter in recent days.
According to the excerpt from the book, the deal was made during a dinner Zuckerberg attended on a trip to Washington DC, held in October 2019, to answer questions from Congress about a crypto currency that would work within the Facebook platform.
Thiel was present, along with the men’s wives, according to the book.
Chafkin said in various media that although details of the deal were kept under wraps, Thiel later told someone that Zuckerberg had come to an understanding with Kushner during the meal that political speech would not be subject to a fact check.
Chafkin called the deal “state-sanctioned conservatism” in his book, suggesting the deal could have been proof that Facebook has not taken similar action as other social media platforms. (such as Twitter) to be responsible for posting information.
If this were true, it meant the Trump campaign would have had carte blanche to post information on Facebook ahead of the 2020 election.
In return, the Trump administration has agreed not to severely regulate social media.
Zuckerberg has reportedly denied that such a deal was made, suggesting the idea was “pretty ridiculous.”
Facebook has received a lot of criticism regarding the dissemination of false information on its platform.
Disinformation on the social media platform received six times as many clicks as factual news in the 2020 election, study finds.
Facebook has yet to make any public announcements about the accusation.
However, Zuckerberg has made some interesting public statements about the political discourse.
He told CBNC in May 2020 that he doesn’t think social media should fact-check what politicians post.
“Political discourse is one of the most sensitive aspects of a democracy, and people should be able to see what politicians are saying,” Zuckerberg said in an interview.
This is a big claim that goes against Facebook’s own fact-checking policy.
Facebook’s website says, “We are committed to fighting the spread of disinformation on Facebook and Instagram. In many countries and regions, we work with independent third-party fact-checking organizations… to identify, review and take action on this content ”.
While most business leaders normally turn to Twitter (or, indeed, Facebook) to set the record straight, Zuckerberg has no Twitter account, with a total of just 19 tweets since joining the platform in 2009 and over 482,000 subscribers.
Meanwhile, Trump was a prolific Facebook and Twitter user before being kicked off platforms in January for violating content policies after the Capitol Riot.