Donald Trump hosted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a private dinner at the White House in October.
NBC News revealed the meeting, which had not previously been disclosed, took place as Zuckerberg was in Washington being grilled by the House – over topics including Facebook’s limited steps to ban to misinformation in political advertising.
According to NBC News, the billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, a conservative who donated to Trump’s 2016 campaign and sits on Facebook’s board, was also present at the meeting.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the meeting to NBC News in a statement.
Zuckerberg – and Facebook – have been strongly criticized for allowing politicians to make misleading or false claims in adverts on the site. Facebook had previously banned ads containing “deceptive, false or misleading content”, but it has lifted that ban when it applies to political advertising.
The October meeting was the second time Zuckerberg, who has privately criticized the anti-corporation proposals of Trump rival Elizabeth Warren, met with the president in two months.
The pair also held a meeting at the White House in September – a summit announced by Trump on Twitter.
“As is normal for a CEO of a major US company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the President and First Lady at the White House,” a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News in a statement.
Trump has been a major advertiser on Facebook. According to a Guardian analysis, his campaign has launched 5,883 different ads since news of the Ukraine-call whistleblower broke on 18 September, 40% of which mention impeachment.
One of the ads raised concern for being deliberately misleading. It claimed, wrongly, that Biden “promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”. CNN declined to run the ad, saying its assertions were “demonstrably false”.
Thiel, who is the chairman of private data technology company Palantir, donated $1.25m to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. In August a report by Mijente, a Latinx organizing not-for-profit, found that Palantir has more than $1.5bn in federal government contracts.