Maybe this explains Facebook’s kid-gloves approach to right-wing propaganda — a new book claims Zuckerberg agreed to a “hands-off approach to conservative sites” in exchange for lax regulations.
There are no good guys in any story involving Peter Theil, Mark Zuckerberg, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump. But we must hold our noses and delve into this. So… remember that 2019 photo of Trump and Zuckerberg, where Zuckerberg had the defeated look of a kid who’d just been beaten up and pantsed on the playground, whereas Trump declared “Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today.”? A forthcoming book details that very incident with behind-the-spray tan details, and it sure sounds like Zuckerberg got railroaded in a mafia-style extortion deal by the Trump family.
New Peter Thiel book:— Seth Hettena (@seth_hettena) September 20, 2021
Mark Zuckerberg struck a deal at a WH meeting w/Trump + Kushner in 2019.
Facebook would avoid fact-checking political speech in return for hands-off regulations.
(Zuckerberg denies this.) https://t.co/P47my0JOLs
Before we go into these details, we should note that Mark Zuckerberg himself called this version of events “pretty ridiculous.” It comes from a New York magazine book excerpt of a forthcoming unauthorized Peter Thiel biography that contains all manner of unflattering revelations about gay libertarian billionaire jerk Peter Thiel. But one particular anecdote has dominated the tech news sector since the piece was published Monday, and we’ll print it verbatim below:
Zuckerberg saw Thiel as a political ally. Zuckerberg had been criticized by conservative media before the 2016 election and, with Thiel’s encouragement, had sought to cater to them.
In 2019, while on a trip to Washington to answer questions from Congress about his digital currency, Thiel joined Zuckerberg, Jared Kushner, Trump, and their spouses at the White House. The specifics of the discussion were secret — but, as I report in my book, Thiel later told a confidant that Zuckerberg came to an understanding with Kushner during the meal. Facebook, he promised, would continue to avoid fact-checking political speech — thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted. If the company followed through on that promise, the Trump administration would lay off on any heavy-handed regulations.
After the dinner, Zuckerberg took a hands-off approach to conservative sites.
Again, Zuck calls this account “pretty ridiculous.” But it sure explains a lot! After all, it was not long after that when conservative posts suddenly dominated the top daily posts, when Facebook removed “strikes” for misinformation from conservative sites, and most bafflingly, their “trusted news sources” were revised to include right-wing horseshit machines Brietbart and Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire.
And as you may recall, Twitter flagged and labeled Trump’s tweets after the “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” post, whereas Facebook didn’t so squat, resulting in a “virtual walkout” by exasperated employees.
Zuckerberg has denied the whole story, without elaborating, but it sure does pass the smell test. Neither Kushner nor Trump has responded, but if they do, it’s likely they’d repeat a previous refrain that we now know was false: “No quid pro quo.”
Image: Donald J. Trump via Facebook