Mark Zuckerberg ‘threatened to tug’ UK funding in secret assembly

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder and CEO, testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill on October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

LONDON – Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg threatened to invest in the UK two years ago at a private meeting with Matt Hancock, then Secretary of the UK Government for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports.

The minutes of the meeting received from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and described online on Tuesday contain a summary of the meeting that took place at the VivaTech technology conference in Paris in May 2018.

The logs, released after a two-year Freedom of Information (FOI) battle, recorded Zuckerberg “speaking of an anti-tech British government and joking that Britain is the only country in the world he won’t visit.” becomes”.

A second country was cut from the protocol.

In response, a spokesman for the social media giant told CNBC, “The UK is our largest engineering hub outside of the US, and just this year we’ve created 1,000 new roles in the country.”

The minutes describe how Zuckerberg said the UK was the “obvious territory” for Facebook to invest in Europe, but he claimed the company looked elsewhere because of criticism the company received in the UK.

According to minutes, Zuckerberg said he supported the UK’s decision to regulate the internet but was “concerned about the tone”.

Hancock Zuckerberg reportedly said he wanted to “use the move to legislate as a fresh start to the UK government’s relationship with the platform,” adding that “the tone can deviate from threatened regulation to ensure that legislation is proportionate and innovation-friendly “.

The meeting between the world’s fifth richest person and Hancock took place when Facebook was in the limelight of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that collected data from millions of Facebook users for political campaigns.

In March 2018, Hancock promised to end the “wild west” for technology companies and introduce new regulations to keep them informed.

Hancock told Zuckerberg at the meeting that he wanted to work with Facebook to implement an “innovation-friendly” law.

The meeting with Zuckerberg reportedly came after several days of “argument” by the UK Cultural Department and provided that it would be a “positive meeting”.

The spokesman for Facebook added: “Facebook has long said that we need new regulations to set high standards on the Internet.”

“Indeed, last year Mark Zuckerberg called on governments to set new rules for harmful content, privacy, data portability and voting integrity.”

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