Mark Zuckerberg had dinner with senators to discuss looming tech regulations
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went to dinner with about half a dozen senators in Washington on Wednesday to discuss regulations that lawmakers have been eager to apply to his industry.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., “helped organize” the dinner meeting “at Facebook’s request,” at a restaurant in D.C. Wednesday night, a spokesperson for his office confirmed to CNBC. Topics included “the role and responsibility of social media platforms in protecting our democracy, and what steps Congress should take to defend our elections, protect consumer data, and encourage competition in the social media space,” according to Warner’s spokesperson. Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a leading figure in Congress championing legislation that would regulate the tech industry.
“This wasn’t a dinner where we’re trying to negotiate a specific piece of legislation,” Warner said in an interview Thursday with MSNBC. Instead, Warner said he wanted the lawmakers “to be able to express first-hand” their concerns and for Zuckerberg to hear them in person.
In a later interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” Warner said he wanted Zuckerberg to hear that the type of criticism he’s expressed about tech “does not come from a single group of senators, that is broadly based, it is bipartisan.” Warner said on MSNBC the meeting included a mix of senators who have been outspoken critics of tech and those who are newer to the subject.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that Zuckerberg will be in D.C. the rest of the week. On Wednesday, a spokesperson said he would be meeting “with policymakers and talk about future internet regulation.” No public events had been planned, the spokesperson said.
The dinner meeting was Zuckerberg’s first known official return to D.C. to face lawmakers since his 2018 testimonies in front of both chambers of Congress following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Those testimonies marked the beginning of an era of intense tech scrutiny by lawmakers, who have held multiple hearings with Facebook and its peers over the past year about user privacy, content moderation and competition.