The face-to-face meeting came as Zuckerberg sat down with some of his harshest critics during his visit to Washington. Trump has been among those critics, having repeatedly criticized Facebook as “anti-Trump” and for perceived anti-conservative bias. The President has tweeted on multiple occasions in support of conservative activists who have either been kicked off of Facebook or had run-ins with the company. Axios first reported the Zuckerberg-Trump meeting.
Trump confirmed the meeting in a tweetThursday evening.
“Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of @Facebook in the Oval Office today,” the President said.
The meeting was the most important meeting of Zuckerberg’s rare visit to the nation’s capital this week to meet with some of his biggest skeptics, seeking to bridge a divide between the social media giant and policymakers who have grown increasingly suspicious of its dominance.
Zuckerberg will meet members of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter, following a slew of meetings on Thursday with some of his most prominent critics in Congress.
Zuckerberg is expected to meet with committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, as well as Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who leads the committee’s antitrust panel. The Washington Post was first to report on the meeting.
Cicilline is several months into a sweeping antitrust probe of tech giants including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Last week, Cicilline sent letters to all four companies seeking detailed records on their business practices, acquisitions and prior dealings with governments around the world.
It was the billionaire entrepreneur’s first reported trip to Washington since an appearance before Congress in April 2018, when Zuckerberg testified on Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Zuckerberg met Thursday afternoon with Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, one of Facebook’s most vocal critics, to discuss data privacy and allegations of anti-conservative bias.
Calling it a “frank discussion,” Hawley said he pressed Zuckerberg to sell off WhatsApp and Instagram.
“Safe to say he was not receptive to those suggestions,” Hawley said. He added that Zuckerberg conceded that the company had “made a mistake” in a fact-checking controversy surrounding a pair of videos published by the anti-abortion group Live Action.
Zuckerberg left the meeting wordlessly, flanked by advisers including Facebook’s US public policy chief, Kevin Martin.
Over dinner Wednesday night, Zuckerberg and a number of US senators discussed Facebook’s role in securing the country’s elections, as well as consumer privacy and competition issues in the social media marketplace.
“I was glad for the opportunity to discuss my concerns directly with Mr. Zuckerberg,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. “I focused on the challenges of privacy safeguards and I welcome the strong, constructive interest shown by Mr. Zuckerberg.