Facebook's Zuckerberg set up a dinner with senators before Capitol Hill meetings

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg met privately with lawmakers on Thursday, following a high-powered dinner with several senators the night before.

The pre-hearing dinner was the social media chief's idea.

"At Facebook’s request, Senator Warner helped organize a dinner meeting in Washington for Mr. Zuckerberg and a group of senators," Rachel Cohen, a spokesperson for Warner, said in a statement. "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.”

Other members of the Senate attending the dinner included Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a vocal critic of Facebook, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who met separately with Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg's trek to Capitol Hill comes as government regulators look into whether technology giants are violating antitrust laws.

Federal Trade Commission Chair Joseph Simons said during a Senate hearing this week that the agency is "actively investigating competitive activity" in technology markets.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Al

In July, the FTC levied a $5 billion fine against the social media company over its handling of users’ personal information.

Zuckerberg said earlier this year that he backs a "more active role for governments and regulators" in setting rules for data privacy and would like more public input on content decisions.

"By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms," he said in a statement at the time.

"Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s impossible to remove all harmful content from the internet, but when people use dozens of different sharing services — all with their own policies and processes — we need a more standardized approach.”

Facebook Vice President Monika Bickert fielded lawmakers' questions Wednesday on why a Facebook Live video of the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shootings in March was not taken down until an hour after it was posted.


Bickert said the company's artificial intelligence technology "did not spot violence in the video." She said the average time it takes its AI technology to spot a violation is 12 seconds.