The closest Mark Zuckerberg has come to directly addressing President Donald Trump in public was when he wrote that “progress does not move in a straight line” the day after the election in November.
Since then, Zuckerberg has embarked on his own tour of the U.S. that’s been compared to a presidential campaign and sparked rumours that the Facebook CEO is considering a 2020 run.
While Zuckerberg has been shy to publicly address Trump, he has in fact spoken with the president multiple times by phone since the election, Business Insider has learned. Zuckerberg revealed that he’s talked with Trump during a surprise dinner with the Moore family in Newton, Ohio two weeks ago.
Exactly what Zuckerberg and Trump discussed is unclear — Zuckerberg didn’t say during his dinner with the Ohio family and his spokesperson declined to comment. But the discussions show that the Facebook billionaire has held a dialogue with Trump even as he publicly opposes policies like Trump’s first executive order on immigration. The White House didn’t return a request for comment.
Zuckerberg and Facebook’s relationship with Trump is complicated. Facebook was widely criticised in the wake of the election for its role in the proliferation of so-called fake news, which many believed help Trump win the election. Zuckerberg has called that notion “pretty crazy,” but Facebook has made significant strides to eradicate fake news stories from its platform.
When Trump called together the tech industry’s top leaders for a meeting of the minds in December, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg went instead of Zuckerberg. Before Trump was elected, Zuckerberg had come to the defence of the Facebook board member and Trump advisor who organised that same meeting with tech leaders, Peter Thiel.
“We care deeply about diversity,” Zuckerberg wrote in an internal memo to Facebook employees that was leaked in October. “That’s easy to say when it means standing up for ideas you agree with. It’s a lot harder when it means standing up for the rights of people with different viewpoints to say what they care about. That’s even more important.”