Mark Zuckerberg Denies ‘Secret’ Deal to Bar Fact-Checking Trump on Facebook to Avoid Government Regulations

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A new biography on PayPal founder Peter Thiel includes a little information about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, too.

According to Max Chafkin’s “The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power,” Thiel heard about a deal made over dinner between Jared Kushner and Zuckerberg that would result in then-President Donald Trump’s administration laying off regulations in exchange for Facebook not fact-checking political speech. Trump’s re-election campaign, then, could make any claims it wanted on the platform.

Zuckerberg and Facebook deny the allegations.

But New York Magazine provided the detail from the forthcoming book, which is out Tuesday, and noted that while Zuckerberg refuted the story, “Facebook’s actions in the run-up to the election would make the denial seem not entirely credible.” During the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, for instance, Twitter hid a post from Trump that said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Facebook, on the other hand, left it up — and faced significant criticism for doing so, which Zuckerberg defended the company against.

Facebook communications chief Andy Stone said in a tweet on Monday that Facebook’s “policy was announced before this dinner ever took place.”

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, announced the company wouldn’t fact-check posts from politicians in Sept. 2019. The dinner described in the book appears to have taken place in Oct. 2019, a month later, and during his original announcement at the Atlantic Festival that year, Clegg noted that the policy had been in place a year.

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