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Trump talked to Zuckerberg on the phone amid social media spat

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  • President Donald Trump and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke on Friday, Axios reported Sunday, days after the president signed an executive order targeting social media companies.
  • Zuckerberg reportedly “expressed concerns about the tone and the rhetoric” of some of Trump’s posts during the call, which followed posts on Twitter and Facebook that the former hid because it violated the rules on “glorifying violence.”
  • Facebook has notably taken a different stance than Twitter when it comes to the president’s posts. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a phone call Friday amid the president’s spat with social media, Axios first reported Sunday, with several other outlets confirming as well.

Zuckerberg “expressed concerns about the tone and the rhetoric” of some of Trump’s posts during the phone call, a source familiar with the call told Axios, with another source saying that he said the president was putting Facebook in a difficult situation.

The phone call was characterized as productive, with Axios noting that Facebook has managed to maintain diplomatic relations with the White House as the president fights with other social media companies.

Neither Facebook nor the White House responded to Insider’s request for comment.

On Friday, Trump tweeted about the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck as he was detained.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he wrote on Twitter early. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter hid his tweet, which remains accessible, behind a warning saying that it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.”

The president then accused the social media giant of targeting him, as well as other conservative voices.

Trump’s remarks were also posted on Facebook, which had a different reaction.

The Facebook CEO said in a statement Friday that “unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician.”

Writing that he had a “visceral negative reaction” to Trump’s “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric,” Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook had been in touch with the White House about its policies.

“I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open,” he concluded.

The day before, Trump signed an executive order cracking down on social media companies over alleged censorship, a move widely perceived as a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s decision to fact-check his tweets on voting by mail.

The decision led the president to accuse the tech giant of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “completely stifling FREE SPEECH.”

He also said that “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

Facebook, just as it did with Trump’s remarks on the ongoing unrest, reacted differently, with Zuckerberg telling Fox News on Thursday that he believes “strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.” Trump tweeted Zuckerberg’s comments on Twitter later that day.

While Facebook is named in the president’s executive order taking aim at social media companies, the order specifically calls attention to Twitter’s fact-checking and accuses it of “political bias.”

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