Years before he banned Trump from his sites, Zuckerberg went to the White House for dinner as part of an effort to work with government and not against it.
The Facebook chief was fiercely criticized by both his own employees as well as wide swaths of the public for not cracking down harder on the president’s most controversial posts.
In September 2019, Trump posted a photo of him shaking hands with Zuckerberg during a meeting in the Oval Office.
‘Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today,’ the president wrote at the time.
Zuckerberg and Trump had dinner at the White House in the fall of 2019. The two men were joined by billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel. Thiel, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, was also one of Facebook’s initial investors. He remains a member of the company’s board of directors.
Zuckerberg met with Trump and other Republican lawmakers as well as prominent conservative commentators in recent years in an effort to ease censorship concerns.
Critics of Facebook had accused Zuckerberg of currying favor with Trump in order to head off any possible regulatory action by the federal government as it relates to the company’s business practices.
The relationship between the pair disintegrated throughout Trump’s presidency and came to a head at the Capitol riot.
Zuckerberg said the president used his Facebook page ‘to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building’ and that allowing him to freely post in the final 13 days of his term would pose too great a risk.
‘The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,’ Zuckerberg wrote.
‘His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world,’ the statement by Zuckerberg read.
‘We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect – and likely their intent – would be to provoke further violence.
‘Following the certification of the election results by Congress, the priority for the whole country must now be to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully and in accordance with established democratic norms.
‘Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies.
‘We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.
‘But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.’
Zuckerberg concluded: ‘We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.
‘Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.’