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Zuckerberg meets senators to discuss tech regulations

Zuckerberg meets senators to discuss tech regulations

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC.Jim Watson | AFP | Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went to dinner with about half a dozen senators in Washington on Wednesday to discuss regulations that lawmakers have been eager to apply to his industry.Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., “helped organize” the dinner meeting “at Facebook’s request,” at a restaurant in D.C. Wednesday night, a spokesperson for his office confirmed to CNBC. Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a leading figure in Congress championing legislation that would regulate the tech industry.”This wasn’t a dinner where we’re trying to negotiate a specific piece of legislation,” Warner said in an interview with MSNBC Thursday. Instead, Warner said he wanted the lawmakers “to be able to express first-hand” their concerns with the industry, and for Zuckerberg to hear those concerns in person. Warner said the meeting included a mix of senators who have been outspoken critics of tech and those who are newer to the subject.A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to CNBC on Wednesday that Zuckerberg would be in D.C. “to meet with policymakers and talk about future internet regulation.” No public events were planned, the spokesperson said.The dinner meeting was Zuckerberg’s first known official return to D.C. to face lawmakers since his 2018 testimonies in front of both chambers of Congress following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Those testimonies marked the beginning of an era of intense tech scrutiny by lawmakers, who have held multiple hearings with Facebook and its peers over the past year about user privacy, content moderation and competition.”The participants had a discussion touching on multiple issues, including the role and responsibility of social media platforms in protecting our democracy, and what steps Congress should take to defend our elections, protect consumer data, and encourage competition in the social media space,” according to the spokesperson.Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also attended the dinner, a spokesperson confirmed to CNBC. Blumenthal sits on both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee. Earlier on Wednesday, he questioned a Facebook representative about the firm’s content removal practices at a hearing about the responsibility social media companies have to moderate violent content. On Tuesday, Blumenthal pressed the heads of the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice to work swiftly in their investigations of Big Tech at a hearing on antitrust.Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee who also attended Wednesday’s hearing, also met with Zuckerberg Wednesday night, her office confirmed.Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, the chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, will meet with Zuckerberg Thursday, a spokesperson for his office confirmed. A spokesperson for Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told CNBC that Facebook had reached out to schedule a meeting on Thursday.As Zuckerberg returns to D.C., Facebook is facing at least two probes into its competitive practices by the FTC and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general. Meanwhile, the DOJ previously announced a broad review of the tech industry, without naming specific companies of focus.All this comes on the heels of a $5 billion settlement Facebook struck with the FTC ending a probe into its privacy practices. The investigation began after reports revealed that political data firm Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data without user consent to target U.S. voters in the 2016 presidential election.This story is developing. Check back for updates.-CNBC’s Ylan Mui contributed to this report.Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.WATCH: How US antitrust law works, and what it means for Big Tech

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