Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied rumors of a secret deal that allowed controversial posts by President Donald Trump to remain on the platform.
Zuckerberg, who has recently become more critical of the Trump administration, addressed the rumors of a clandestine deal in an interview with Axios.
“I’ve heard this speculation, too, so let me be clear: There’s no deal of any kind,” Zuckerberg told Axios. “Actually, the whole idea of a deal is pretty ridiculous.”
Zuckerberg confirmed that he talks to Trump “from time to time,” including during a dinner at the White House.
“The fact that I met with a head of state should not be surprising, and does not suggest we have some kind of deal,” said Zuckerberg, who added that he has had similar meetings with former President Barack Obama and other political leaders across the world.
For further evidence against the rumored deal, Zuckerberg pointed to the record fines of $5 billion and the antitrust investigations into Facebook under the Trump administration.
In a companywide Q&A last week that was obtained by Axios, Zuckerberg pushed back against the notion that Facebook has been “too sympathetic” with Trump. The CEO cited several disagreements with the president, including over his immigration policies, the withdrawal from the Paris agreement for climate change, and his “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”
The Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a massive advertising boycott against Facebook, was launched due to how the social network handled Trump’s post on the Minneapolis protests over the murder of George Floyd. The same post was hidden by Twitter for “glorification of violence.”
Facebook has since promised changes to several content moderation policies, including banning hate speech in paid advertisements and cracking down on harmful posts by public figures. The social network may also suspend all political advertising ahead of the U.S. presidential election this fall.
Zuckerberg has also become more vocal in criticism against the Trump administration. In a recent interview with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci that was livestreamed on Facebook, the CEO said the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was “very disappointing.”
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