While Twitter Confronts Trump, Zuckerberg Keeps Facebook Out of It


SAN FRANCISCO — Earlier this week, as Twitter executives waded into a confrontation with President Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, took a very different tack: He kept his head down.

Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter, took to his site not long after to say Twitter would not back down, presenting a stark contrast to Mr. Zuckerberg, who, in an interview a day earlier with Fox News, said Facebook wasn’t going to judge Mr. Trump’s posts.

“We’ve been pretty clear on our policy that we think that it wouldn’t be right for us to do fact checks for politicians,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “I think in general, private companies probably shouldn’t be — or especially these platform companies — shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

Mr. Zuckerberg’s reminder that Facebook would not interfere with posts from Mr. Trump — even if they violate rules that would apply to other people — was in part the product of his longtime belief that his company should avoid getting into the political fray and let its three billion users have their say.

His assurance that his company would not be an “arbiter of truth” in political discussion was also indicative of an aggressive effort over the last year or so to court Republicans in Washington and conservative voices in the media. The goal: to keep regulators off his giant internet company’s back.

By staying on the sidelines as Twitter does battle with Mr. Trump and his allies, Mr. Zuckerberg could gain unlikely Republican friends to stave off regulatory intervention into his business, which lawmakers around the world have threatened for more than a year.

Mike Isaac and Cecilia Kang

2020-05-29 19:57:16

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