Sen. Elizabeth Warren ripped Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday morning for recently having an undisclosed dinner with President Trump and Peter Thiel in the White House, accusing the tech billionaire of courting Republican favor in order to skirt looming antitrust threats.
“Amid antitrust scrutiny, Facebook is going on a charm offensive offensive with Republican lawmakers,” Warren tweeted. “And now, Mark Zuckerberg and one of Facebook’s board members [Thiel] — a major Trump donor — had a secret dinner with Trump. This is corruption, plain and simple.”
Warren’s blunt tweet comes the morning after NBC News reported Trump hosted Zuckerberg and Thiel last month. The dinner was hosted during Zuckerberg’s October trip to Washington, D.C. to testify before Congress; what was discussed at the meal wasn’t reported.
“As is normal for a CEO of a major U.S. company, Mark (Zuckerberg) accepted an invitation to have dinner with the President and First Lady at the White House,” a Facebook spokesperson told NBC.
Warren’s latest criticism of Zuckerberg adds to a growing list of run-ins between the two this year.
In March, Warren compared the current tech landscape to a modern day Gilded Age, where smaller companies are unable to compete with the major players. Warren proposed breaking up Facebook, Amazon and Google, saying “we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.” The antitrust momentum against Facebook has picked up some steam since then, with 47 Attorneys general, representing several states, opening an antitrust investigation into Facebook last month.
Despite the added pressure from lawmakers, antitrust experts told TheWrap that the breakup of Facebook or other major tech firms is anything but a sure thing. Penn State antitrust professor John Lopatka said there are “two necessary ingredients” that would be needed to take action against a company like Facebook: Not only does there have to be proof Facebook is a monopoly, but you’d also have to show Facebook extended its monopoly “through anti-competitive conduct.”
“We can assume Facebook has monopoly power in the social media platform market, but that’s not enough,” he continued. “You still have to prove it acquired or maintains that power through anti-competitive power, and I don’t know any reason to believe that’s the case.”
Warren’s relationship with Facebook has grown even icier in recent months, as the senator has skewered Facebook for its decision to not fact-check political ads.
“Once again, we’re seeing Facebook throw its hands up to battling misinformation in the political discourse, because when profit comes up against protecting democracy, Facebook chooses profit,” Warren tweeted in October.
Zuckerberg shot back, saying he believes Facebook’s users are better off deciding what is and isn’t true, rather than having Facebook do it for them.
“As a principle,” Zuckerberg said during a speech at Georgetown University last month, “in a democracy, I believe people should decide what is credible, not tech companies.”
Read original story Elizabeth Warren Slams Secret Trump-Zuckerberg Dinner: ‘This Is Corruption, Plain and Simple’ At TheWrap