WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: Facebook founder an
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (L) and Facebooks Vice President of Global Public Policy, Joel Kaplan (R) leave a meeting with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in his office on Capitol Hill on September 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting dinners with influential American conservative politicians and journalists since this summer, Politico reported.
  • On Monday, Zuckerberg responded to the report in a Facebook post.
  • Zuckerberg defended his off-the-record dinners, saying "hearing from a wide range of viewpoints is part of learning," and suggested people should try it.
  • Social media companies including Facebook have long been accused by US Republicans of censoring conservative speech.
  • Democrats, meanwhile, have accused Facebook of boosting misinformation posted by conservative outlets or prominent conservative figures, and recently criticised Facebook's advertising policy, which allows ads with debunked misinformation.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting off-the-record dinners with conservative American figures including Tucker Carlson and Lindsey Graham over the last several months, Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman of Politico reported Monday.

Zuckerberg seemingly confirmed the report hours later in a Facebook post, and while he didn't specify any individuals he had dined with, he said he had hosted private meals with "conservative politicians, media, and thinkers" and defended the dinners.

"To be clear, I have dinner with lots of people across the spectrum on lots of different issues all the time," he wrote.

"Meeting new people and hearing from a wide range of viewpoints is part of learning," he continued. "If you haven't tried it, I suggest you do!"

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg made it his personal goal in 2017 to visit all 50 US states in an effort to talk with people across America.

Zuckerberg's response to the report he's hosted private dinners with influential conservatives comes amid a rough week for Facebook. On Monday, "#DeleteFacebook" was the top trending hashtag on Twitter in the US. The company is under fire for its controversial misinformation policy, under which it knowingly runs political ads that make claims debunked by fact-checkers. The company's advertising policy allows ads with false information - but not cursing.

On Saturday, Facebook Newsroom's Twitter account called out Elizabeth Warren, one of the company's most high-profile critics. The strategy didn't work as planned though, and Senator Warren responded by writing "You're making my point here. It's up to you whether you take money to promote lies." Responses to the tweet were largely critical of Facebook.

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