Mark Zuckerburg denies ‘deal’ with Trump to protect Facebook

    The social media platform has been called out for not removing lies and misinformation posted by the political right.

    (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    Mark Zuckerberg has slammed accusations that he and President Donald Trump have a secret Facebook deal related to political speech. 

    In an interview with Axios, the Facebook CEO addressed rumors that he is part of a closed-door agreement with Trump, one that sees him turning a blind eye to the inaccurate and misleading posts that the president shares on the platform. 

    “I’ve heard this speculation, too, so let me be clear: There’s no deal of any kind,” Zuckerberg tells the outlet. “Actually, the whole idea of a deal is pretty ridiculous.”

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    For months now, social media users have been giving Zuckerberg the side-eye over the rumored deal. Many have noted that while Trump continues to catch heat for violations on Twitter, Zuckerberg appears to be more tolerant of the controversial posts by Trump and his supporters. 

    Facebook has also been called out for not removing lies and misinformation posted by the political right, The Verge reports. 

    Zuckerberg announced last year that Facebook would not fact-check political ads, a week later he reportedly attended a secret dinner at the White House with Trump. Since then, it appears this administration has been given license to post campaign ads and videos that tout lies and divisive rhetoric.

    Facebook’s refusal to remove certain posts has resulted in employee walkouts and advertiser boycotts. 

    At the urging of several civil rights organizations, lead by the NAACP, hundreds of brands have paused advertising for the entire month of July as part of the #StopHateforProfit campaign that was launched in mid-June, theGrio previously reported. 

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    The movement calls on Facebook to do more to curb the spread of hate speech and misinformation. In a statement, the advocacy groups slammed the service for “allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform.”

    Civil rights leaders say Facebook is all talk and no action when it comes to removing racist, hateful and misleading content from the platform.

    Earlier this month, Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg met with the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Color of Change and Free Press to discuss the demands of the massive advertiser boycott, CNBC reports. 

    The meeting, held via video conference, was meant to address the groups’ 10 demands and how Facebook is handling hate content. Instead of squashing tensions over the widespread advertiser boycott, that includes Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Levi’s, Zuckerberg served up a dry nothingburger

    Color Of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson called it  “a disappointment.”

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    ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also noted that the group outlined their 10 demands during the meeting and “we didn’t get commitments or timeframes or clear outcomes,” he said. 

    Venture capitalist Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook, told The New York Times that he believes Trump and Zuckerberg have an arrangement that was “probably implied rather than explicit” and “highly utilitarian.”

    “It’s basically about getting [Facebook] free rein and protection from regulation,” he said. “Trump needs Facebook’s thumb on the scale to win this election.”

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