Zuckerberg denied saying he wouldn't fact-check political posts if Trump didn't impose 'heavy-handed regulations,' a new book claims

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Mark
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Mark Zuckerberg said he would avoid fact-checking political posts if Trump didn't impose heavy regulations, a new book says.

  • Peter Thiel told an associate that Zuckerberg cut the deal during a meeting at the White House in 2019, the book claims.

  • Thiel's confidant described it as pushing "state-sanctioned conservatism" on Facebook.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg cut a deal with former President Donald Trump that the social media platform wouldn't fact-check political posts if the Trump administration didn't impose "heavy-handed regulations," a new book claims. Zuckerberg denied the allegation.

In 2019, venture capitalist Peter Thiel joined Zuckerberg, Trump, Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and their spouses at the White House, according to an excerpt of the book "The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley's Pursuit of Power" by journalist Max Chafkin published by The Intelligencer.

Zuckerberg denied that such a deal had been made, according to the book, saying the notion was "pretty ridiculous."

During the meeting, Zuckerberg pledged to Kushner that he wouldn't fact-check political posts on Facebook as long as the Trump administration steered clear of regulating the platform, Thiel told a confidant, according to the excerpt.

The associate told Chafkin about the encounter, saying that Thiel, who founded companies like PayPal and Palantir, described the agreement between Zuckerberg and Kushner as the Facebook CEO essentially promising to push "state-sanctioned conservatism" on Facebook.

Chafkin wrote that the agreement could have been exemplified in Facebook failing to take similar measures as Twitter and other platforms in response to posts related to the Black Lives Matter protests and rhetoric surrounding the events of January 6.

"During Black Lives Matter protests, Twitter hid a post by the president that seemed to condone violence: 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts'; Face­book allowed it," Chafkin wrote, citing the Intelligencer excerpt. "In the days leading up to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, Facebook mostly ignored calls to limit the spread of 'Stop the Steal' groups, which claimed that Trump had actually won the election."

When reached for comment regarding the White House meeting, a spokesperson for Facebook pointed to the social media's announcement in September 2019 that they implemented a fact-checking policy on political speech, delivered by Nick Clegg, who serves as vice president of Global Affairs and Communications.

Last year, Facebook also confirmed to The Washington Post that though the fact-checking policy was officially announced in September 2019, Facebook formally put it in place in September 2018, prior to the conversation that Zuckerberg had with Thiel, Kushner, and Trump.

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