Mark Zuckerberg is privately schmoozing with some of Facebook’s biggest critics in Washington this week (FB)
Category : entrepreneur
Mark Zuckerberg is back in Washington, DC, to try to win over some of Facebook’s critics in Congress.
The Facebook CEO is visiting US lawmakers in a series of meetings and dinners this week, as the company faces intense political and regulatory scrutiny on issues ranging from antitrust to data privacy, content moderation, and Libra, its controversial digital-currency plan.
It is believed to be the 34-year-old billionaire CEO’s first visit to Washington since he was grilled by Congress in April 2018 over Facebook’s impact on the 2016 presidential election and other subjects in a series of high-profile hearings. Unlike that visit, however, Zuckerberg is not scheduled to appear publicly, instead schmoozing privately in an attempt to bolster his company’s standing politically.
Zuckerberg’s visit was first reported by Axios, and it has since been confirmed by the company and multiple lawmakers’ offices. A Facebook representative did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. In a statement, a representative told Axios: “Mark will be in Washington, DC, to meet with policymakers and talk about future internet regulation. There are no public events planned.”
The full schedule of Zuckerberg’s visit isn’t publicly available, but at least some of his visits have been disclosed.
On Wednesday evening, he attended a dinner hosted by Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who has been vocally critical of Facebook. “At Facebook’s request, Senator Warner helped organize a dinner meeting in Washington for Mr. Zuckerberg and a group of senators,” Warner’s representative told reporters in a statement.
“The participants had a discussion touching on multiple issues, including the role and responsibility of social media platforms in protecting our democracy, and what steps Congress should take to defend our elections, protect consumer data, and encourage competition in the social-media space.”
Warner helped lead the congressional investigation into Russian-linked efforts to use Facebook to spread misinformation to disrupt the American elections. He also introduced legislation forcing Facebook to identify people and groups buying political ads on the site.
Politico reports that Zuckerberg also met with Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state who sits on the Senate commerce committee, on Wednesday. Other meetings reportedly include Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Mike Lee, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee.
According to Axios, Zuckerberg is meeting with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, another high-profile critic of him. Hawley was among a group of senators who complained last week about a fact-check Facebook added to an antiabortion video, and he has also called for major changes to legislation that provides immunity to tech platforms for content their users posts.
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