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Facebook’s Zuckerberg speaks with Trump ‘from time to time’

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  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with Axios that he speaks with President Trump “from time to time.”
  • Zuckerberg dismissed claims that he has a deal with the president in the interview, calling the idea “pretty ridiculous.”
  • Zuckerberg also added that he spoke with the United States’ last president and other political leaders.
  • The comments come after questions about Facebook’s relationship with Trump have been raised following the company’s handling of a controversial post from the president regarding the death of George Floyd.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he speaks with President Trump “from time to time” in an interview with Axios, comments that come as the social media giant’s handling of Trump’s posts on the platform have put the company’s content moderation policies under fresh scrutiny in recent months.

“I do speak with the president from time to time, just like I spoke with our last president and political leaders around the world,” Zuckerberg said to Axios’ Mike Allen in an interview published Monday.  

In the interview, Zuckerberg shot down claims and speculation that he has a deal with Trump, pointing to areas where he and the president disagree — such as immigration policies and the administration’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.  

Reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post have shed light on Zuckerberg’s relationship with the president — and raised questions about whether Facebook is catering to Trump to avoid scrutiny amid a call for regulation among large tech companies.

The Washington Post, citing conversations with more than a dozen current and former Facebook employees and internal documents, published a report in June detailing how politics have shaped the company’s decision-making processes regarding content moderation and the News Feed as Trump has grown in power over the past five years. The New York Times reported details on a dinner that Trump held with Zuckerberg back in October.

Zuckerberg, when speaking with Axios, told the outlet that “there’s no deal of any kind.” “Actually, the whole idea of a deal is pretty ridiculous,” he said.

Zuckerberg came under scrutiny in June when the company refused to take action against a post from President Trump referring to protests over the death of George Floyd that said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” 

“I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” Zuckerberg wrote in June in a post explaining the company’s decision.

The move came around the same time Trump signed an executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields social media companies from being held responsible for the content that users publish on their platforms. 

Dozens of major brands boycotted Facebook by halting their advertising on the platform in response to Zuckerberg’s handling of the Trump’s post, including Adidas, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and Unilever among others. Disney also drastically cut its advertising spending on Facebook, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. 

Facebook’s decision not to fact-check political ads has also invited criticism, and the company recently announced that it will allow users to opt out of seeing political ads.

Zuckerberg isn’t the only high-profile tech executive that has made headlines for his relationship with Trump. Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Trump several times throughout 2018 and 2019 amid escalating trade tensions with China, and the president toured Apple’s facility in Austin, Texas late last year. Cook even calls Trump personally, Fox Business reported last August. 

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