Trump had private dinner with Mark Zuckerberg amid Congress appearance

US president’s meeting with Facebook’s CEO has not previously been disclosed

File image of  Mark Zuckerberg,  chief executive of Facebook, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US. File photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times

File image of Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US. File photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times

 

US president Donald Trump hosted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a private dinner at the White House in October.

NBC News revealed the meeting, which had not previously been disclosed, took place as Mr Zuckerberg was in Washington being grilled by the House over topics including Facebook’s limited steps to ban misinformation in political advertising.

According to NBC News, the billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, a conservative who donated to Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign and sits on Facebook’s board, was also present at the meeting.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the meeting to NBC News in a statement.

Mr Zuckerberg – and Facebook – have been strongly criticised for allowing politicians to make misleading or false claims in adverts on the site. Facebook had previously banned ads containing “deceptive, false or misleading content”, but it has lifted that ban when it comes to political advertising.

The October meeting was the second time Mr Zuckerberg, who has privately criticised the anti-corporation proposals of Trump rival Elizabeth Warren, met with the president in two months.

September summit

The pair also held a meeting at the White House in September – a summit announced by Mr Trump on Twitter.

“As is normal for a CEO of a major US company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the president and first lady at the White House,” a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News in a statement.

Mr Trump has been a major advertiser on Facebook.

According to a Guardian analysis, Mr Trump’s campaign has launched 5,883 different ads since news of the Ukraine-call whistleblower broke on September 18th, 40 per cent of which mention impeachment.

One of the ads raised concern for being deliberately misleading. It claimed, wrongly, that former Democratic vice-president Joe Biden “promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”. CNN declined to run the ad, saying its assertions were “demonstrably false”.

Thiel, who is the chairman of private data technology company Palantir, donated $1.25 million to Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. In August a report by Mijente, a Latinx not-for-profit, found that Palantir has more than $1.5 billion in federal government contracts. – Guardian