Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg allegedly agreed not to fact-check political posts by Donald Trump‘s administration if the former President spared the social media giant ‘heavy-handed regulations,’ according to a tell-all book about Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
In what Thiel reportedly called ‘state-sanctioned conservatism,’ Zuckerberg ‘promised [that Facebook] would avoid fact-checking political speech – thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted,’ writes Max Chafkin, the features editor for Bloomberg’s Businessweek, in his upcoming book, ‘The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power.’
In October of 2019, on a trip to answer congressional questions about a cryptocurrency that would function within the Facebook platform, Facebook board member Thiel joined Zuckerberg, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump and their spouses for a closed-door discussion, Chafkin wrote.
Thiel detailed the deal between the Trump administration and Zuckerberg to a confidante, who was later interviewed by Chafkin, according to excerpts from the book published Monday by New York Magazine.
In a 2019 meeting with Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, Mark Zuckerberg allegedly ‘promised [that Facebook] would avoid fact-checking political speech – thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted.’ In return, Max Chafkin writes in his new book, ‘The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power,’ the administration would ‘lay off any heavy-handed regulations’
In what Thiel reportedly called ‘state-sanctioned conservatism,’ Zuckerberg ‘promised [that Facebook] would avoid fact-checking political speech – thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted,’ writes Max Chafkin (pictured), the features editor for Bloomberg’s Businessweek, in his upcoming book, ‘The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power’
PayPal founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel joined Zuckerberg at his meeting with Donald Trump (pictured left) meeting to PayPal founder Peter Thiel (pictured right) – Thiel confided in an associate, who then revealed the content of the meeting in an interview with Chafkin for his new book
‘Zuckerberg came to an understanding with Kushner during the meal. Facebook, he promised, would avoid fact-checking political speech — thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted. In return the Trump administration would lay off on any heavy-handed regulations. Facebook had long seen itself as a government unto itself; now, thanks to the understanding brokered by Thiel, the site would push what the Thiel confidant called ‘state-sanctioned conservatism,'” Chafkin wrote.
The Facebook founder has denied that there had been any deal with the Trump administration, Chafkin wrote, calling the claim ‘pretty ridiculous.’
‘I accepted the invite for dinner because I was in town and he is the president of the United States,’ Zuckerberg said in the Axios interview.
‘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.’
‘The fact that I met with a head of state should not be surprising, and does not suggest we have some kind of deal.’
Likewise, a representative from Facebook’s Executive Communications department categorically denied that such an agreement was fostered, and told MailOnline.com on Monday that ‘the timeline suggested in the book excerpt conflicts with what’s already widely been reported.’
In September of 2019, Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs Sir Nick Clegg announced that the platform would not fact-check politicians’ statements posted to the site.
‘We don’t believe… that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny,’ Clegg said in the 2019 statement.
Although it was formally announced by Clegg before the 2020 election, the platform implemented the policy in September of 2018 before that year’s congressional midterm election, according to the Washington Post.
‘One specific critique that I’ve seen is that there are a lot of people who’ve said that maybe we’re too sympathetic or too close in some way to the Trump administration,’ Zuckerberg said in the Axios interview.
‘I just want to push back on that a bit – [W]e need to separate out the fact of giving people some space for discourse, from the positions that we have individually, where I feel like the company and I personally have been.’
The Facebook founder denied that there had been any deal with the Trump administration, Chafkin wrote, calling the claim ‘pretty ridiculous’
Also in 2019, Zuckerberg (pictured) met with French president Emmanuel Macron to discuss Facebook’s partnership with the French government on tackling hate speech online, amid calls for tighter regulation
Trump, who is banned from posting on Facebook, told FOX host Greg Gutfeld that Zuckerberg ‘used to come to the White House to kiss [his] a**’ earlier this month.
‘I’d say, “Oh, that’s nice.” I have the head of Facebook coming with his lovely wife. And they come, and they’d have dinner with me in the White House.
‘Then you see what they do about me and about Republicans, and it’s just sort of crazy. But that’s the way the world works.’
Currently, Trump is embroiled in class-action lawsuits against Google, YouTube Twitter and Facebook, alleging that the platforms silence his and other conservatives’ voices.
He invited ‘anyone who wants to join’ to become a plaintiff during his Greg Gutfeld Show appearance.
In a June statement, Trump snuck another jab at Zuckerberg into a statement congratulating the country of Nigeria for banning Twitter – an apparent act of retaliation after the platform deleted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s Tweet.
‘Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President,’ wrote Trump, whose accounts on Facebook and Twitter were banned on January 8, two days after the ‘Stop the Steal’ riots on the Capitol.
‘Perhaps I should have done it while I was President… But Zuckerberg kept calling me and coming to the White House for dinner telling me how great I was,’ he wrote.
‘More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech – all voices should be heard.’
In a June statement, Trump snuck another jab at Zuckerberg into a statement congratulating the country of Nigeria for banning Twitter – an apparent act of retaliation after the platform deleted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s Tweet
In the excerpt, Chafkin asserts that that Trump was ‘heard’ more – or, at least, was afforded more flexibility in his speech – on Facebook than on Twitter.
Famously, Trump wrote ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’ on his Twitter and Facebook accounts in May amid Black Lives Matter protests – while Twitter removed the post for possibly ‘condoning violence,’ it remained visible on Facebook.
Donald Trump, pictured here on September 11, told told FOX host Greg Gutfeld on September 10 that Zuckerberg ‘used to come to the White House to kiss [his] a**’
Famously, Trump wrote ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’ on his Twitter and Facebook accounts in May amid Black Lives Matter protests – while Twitter removed the post for possibly ‘condoning violence,’ it remained visible on Facebook
Chafkin also cited an internal report obtained by Buzzfeed News in which a Facebook task force wrote that the platform’s ’emphasis on rooting out fake accounts and inauthentic behavior’ held back its response when real people used the platform to organize the attempted coup that took place at the nation’s capital on January 6.
‘Hindsight is 20/20, at the time, it was very difficult to know whether what we were seeing was a coordinated effort to delegitimize the election, or… free expression by users who were afraid and confused and deserved our empathy,’ reads the report.
The platform announced last Thursday that it would make strides to restrain the sort ‘coordinated social harm’ on its app that previously left ‘groups of coordinated real accounts’ unchecked.
Facebook’s security experts made an example of German anti-COVID movement Querdenken, coinciding the removal of their Facebook groups and accounts associated with them with the Thursday announcement.
Chafkin attributes Facebook’s lax regulation to ‘Thielism,’ an ideology later collected in Peter Thiel’s (pictured) bestseller ‘Zero to One’ that Zuckerberg absorbed from the Paypal founder who loaned him $500,000 to start up TheFacebook.com in 2004 when the pair were attending Harvard. It is better to ask forgiveness than permission, per Thiel’s creed – ‘disruption wasn’t just an unfortunate consequence of innovation but an end in itself.’ From this, Zuckerberg coined his now-famous motto: ‘move fast and break things’
However, Zuckerberg said his Axios interview that Facebook removed five ads and posts from the Trump administration since 2018 for reasons including copyright violation and ‘targeting personal attributes.’
‘Under this administration, we’ve faced record fines of $5 billion, are under antitrust investigation by multiple agencies, and have been targeted by an executive order to strip protections in Section 230,’ he said, referring to the law that shields tech companies for liability from content posted by their platforms’ users.
Trump told Axios after Zuckerberg was interviewed that he had ‘always respected Zuckerberg’s strong pro-First Amendment position.’
‘He’s entitled to his position, as are the tens of millions of Trump supporters on Facebook,’ he told Allen.
Last week, Facebook came under fire for a secret program in place that allows celebrities and powerful people to skirt the social network’s own rules, according to a bombshell report by the Wall Street Journal.
The program called ‘XCheck’ or ‘cross check,’ created a so-called ‘whitelist’ of celebrities who are immune from enforcement, the outlet reported.
It was initially designed to protect the company from bad publicity in the event that it moderated content from some of the more high-profile users. Instead, critics say that it has shielded those same users from the rules that apply to the general public.
Chafkin writes that Facebook is such an ‘obviously malevolent force,’ leaving journalists and policymakers to ‘struggle to explain why the company remains indifferent to the objections of regulators and lawmakers as well as those raised by common sense’ due a philosophy that he has dubbed ‘Thielism.’
Laid out in Thiel’s bestseller ‘Zero to One,’ Chafkin posits that Zuckerberg was inspired by the thinking of the PayPal founder who loaned him $500,000 to start TheFacebook.com in 2004 when the pair attended Harvard.
‘[Zero to One] argues, among other things, that founders are godlike, that monarchies are more efficient than democracies, and that cults are a better organizational model than management consultancies,’ Chafkin writes.
It is better to ask forgiveness than permission, per Thiel’s creed – ‘disruption wasn’t just an unfortunate consequence of innovation but an end in itself.’
From this, he wrote, Zuckerberg coined his now-famous motto: ‘Move fast and break things.’