Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg reportedly has a direct line to the White House.
At Facebook’s outset, Zuckerberg was “completely apolitical,” a former Facebook public policy director tells The Wall Street Journal in a deep dive into Zuckerberg’s politics. But that all changed in 2016 amid criticism that Facebook steered the election, leading Zuckerberg to start getting closer with the company’s top publishers — and the White House.
Publicly, Zuckerberg branded himself as “a work in progress, open to self-reflection and eager to understand other perspectives,” the Journal writes. But “behind the scenes,” was focused on ensuring the site didn’t seem partisan with an emphasis on free speech, leading some Democratic officials to see him as “overly deferential to conservatives,” the Journal continues. Indeed, Zuckerberg started forming close ties to conservatives with the help of the Trump-backing Facebook board member Peter Thiel and global head of policy Joel Kaplan, a former deputy chief of staff to George W. Bush.
One of Zuckerberg’s newfound ties is to President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. The two “sometimes discuss Facebook policies over WhatsApp,” the Journal reports. And earlier this year, people familiar with the matter say Zuckerberg talked about the video app TikTok’s U.S. presence with Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Zuckerberg also has forged ties with right-leaning publishers that drive engagement on the platform,” including Ben Shapiro, who formerly ran the conservative Daily Wire, the Journal writes.
“Any insinuation that [Zuckerberg] encouraged the administration to ban TikTok is false,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Zuckerberg declined to comment to the Journal. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Kathryn Krawczyk