Mark Zuckerberg wants to be CEO of all Americans, be they liberal or conservative. After news last week that some of Facebook’s curators “suppressed" right-wing news on the social network’s Trending Topics section, the company has been scrambling to save face and assure conservatives they are welcome on the platform.
In the latest charm offensive, Zuckerberg has invited high-profile conservatives to meet with him at Facebook headquarters.
Among them is an ambassador for Donald Trump, senior adviser Barry Bennett, CNN reported Monday.
The Zuckerberg and Trump camps have exchanged barbs before. "I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others," Zuckerberg said with an unsubtle nod toward Trump last month at the F8 conference. Trump, meanwhile, knocked Zuckerberg on immigration last year while attacking his then-rival, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Bennett will join the likes of Glenn Beck of TheBlaze, Dana Perino of Fox News and S.E. Cupp of CNN.
“I want to have a direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post last week.
Zuckerberg’s outreach effort is reminiscent of President Barack Obama’s decision to dine with a gaggle of influential conservative pundits upon taking office in 2009.
Given the eight years of bad blood between Obama and conservative opinion makers, Zuckerberg may not have noticed how that turned out.
As International Business Times reported last week, conservative outlets have already begun to distort and exaggerate the details of the Facebook snafu. Contrary to Glenn Beck’s Facebook rant Friday, the ex-Facebook employees who spoke to Gizmodo did not allege that Facebook suppresses conservative articles or websites across the board.
Instead, their claim was much more specific: A particular component of the site, the Trending Topics bar, was allegedly curated by contractors who favored liberal topics of interest over conservative ones.
Still, the perception that Facebook is smothering conservative news — Fox News, by the way, often dominates the social network, trouncing sites like BuzzFeed — provides figureheads like Beck with plenty of Orwellian material.
“It will make lasting difference if he actually wants a place where all ideas are treated equally, even those he, or 'they', may disagree with,” Beck wrote in his screed accepting Zuckerberg’s invitation.
“I fear if they don't, the big government establishment progressives will, at some point, make Facebook a 'utility' and destroy it for everyone.”
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