Mark Zuckerberg had a closed-door dinner with senators Wednesday night as part of his trip to Washington D.C. to lobby lawmakers on privacy and regulation issues important to Facebook, the social media giant he founded.
His agenda includes meeting with powerful Democrats on the Intelligence panels, DailyMail.com has learned, and with lawmakers working on privacy issues.
‘I’m sorry. I’m not taking questions,’ he told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday as he walked into a meeting.
Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, arranged the dinner meeting – at an unnamed restaurant – at Facebook’s request, according to a spokesperson.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks to a meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill
Senator Mark Warner arranged a dinner meeting – at an unnamed restaurant – at Facebook’s request for Zuckerberg and fellow senators
‘At Facebook’s request, Senator Warner helped organize a dinner meeting in Washington for Mr. Zuckerberg and a group of Senators,’ Warner’s spokesperson Rachel Cohen said in a statement.
‘The participants had a discussion touching on multiple issues, including 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,’ she said.
Zuckerberg is making his first trip to the nation’s Capitol since he took a beating from lawmakers about his company’s practices in an April hearing before Congress.
His visit comes as lawmakers are looking at regulating social media companies and are weighing a new privacy law that would hamper the ability of companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to collect and make money off users’ personal data.
The Facebook founder has called for government officials to take a more active role in regulating the Internet.
‘The rules governing the Internet allowed a generation of entrepreneurs to build services that changed the world and created a lot of value in people’s lives,’ Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post in March. ‘It’s time to update these rules to define clear responsibilities for people, companies and governments going forward.’
Facebook declined to release Zuckerberg’s schedule or comment on who was at the Wednesday evening dinner and who paid for it.
‘Mark is in Washington, D.C., to meet with policymakers and talk about future internet regulation. There are no public events planned,’ said Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone in a statement.
Zuckerberg will meet with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, according to a congressional aide, and he met with Senator Maria Cantwell Wednesday evening separately from the dinner, her office told DailyMail.com.
Cantwell is the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, which is debating online privacy legislation.
Mark Zuckerberg was meeting with lawmakers on privacy and regulation issues
Zuckerberg will meet with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff
Schiff is investigating foreign interference in the 2016 election, which Facebook and other social media companies have had to defend their policies following revelations Russia used their platforms to influence the presidential contest.
Additionally, Zuckerberg met with Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah, who is the chairman of the anti-trust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary panel.
‘We need robust investigations and enforcement of the antitrust laws, especially in the tech arena,’ Lee said in a statement Wednesday after lawmakers on Senate Commerce Committee questioned executives from tech companies about the spread of extremism and violence on digital platforms.
Lee’s office said the two men spoke on a number of issues.
‘Sen. Lee and Mr. Zuckerberg touched on a number of topics including bias against conservatives on Facebook’s platform, government regulation of digital platforms, antitrust enforcement, Section 230 liability, and data-privacy issues,’ a Lee spokesperson said of the meeting.
Zuckerberg also met with Josh Hawley of Missouri, who is a huge conservative critic of Big Tech.
‘The visit from the Facebook CEO also comes the Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust investigation into the company.
During his April testimony on Capitol Hill, lawmakers pressed the Facebook founder on how third-party partners – like Cambridge Analytica – could harvest data without users’ knowledge.
They also asked Zuckerberg about fake news on Facebook, if there was a bias against conservatives and about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
One person not on Zuckerberg’s agenda is Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
‘Not on schedule, no request received,’ a senior congressional aide told DailyMail.com when asked if the two would meet.
Pelosi criticized Zuckerberg and Facebook in May after the company did not remove an altered video that slurred her words and made the speaker appear drunk.
Zuckerberg is not scheduled to meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was furious with Facebook when the company did not remove an altered video of her
Zuckerberg reached out to her after the incident but she did not return his phone call.
The speaker accused Facebook of ‘lying to the public’ and saying it shows ‘they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election.’
Facebook warned users the video of Pelosi is fake but it refused to remove the altered footage of her speech at a Center for American Progress event, which was subtly edited to make her voice sound garbled and slowed down, as if she was under the influence of alcohol.