Zuckerberg Gets Cold Reception from Lawmakers on Capitol Hill

FILE PHOTO: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

With his company under a regulatory spotlight, Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg scored a meeting at the White House with President Trump Thursday—but faced a chillier reception from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

A spokesman for Facebook said Mr. Zuckerberg was visiting Washington to meet with policy makers “to hear their concerns and talk about future internet regulation.” The spokesman said Mr. Zuckerberg’s meeting with the president was “constructive.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and White House social media director Dan Scavino also joined the meeting, a person familiar with the meeting said.

“Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in the Oval Office today,” Mr. Trump posted Thursday night on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, along with a photo of the president and Mr. Zuckerberg shaking hands.

On Capitol Hill, Mr. Zuckerberg received an earful of complaints, and two influential lawmakers couldn’t find the time to meet with him.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) said he challenged Mr. Zuckerberg to spin off its Instagram and WhatsApp units—two acquisitions that are now part of a government antitrust probe into Facebook.

“I said to him, ‘Prove that you’re serious…sell WhatsApp, and sell Instagram,’” Mr. Hawley said following his afternoon meeting with Mr. Zuckerberg. “I think it’s safe to say that he was not receptive to those suggestions,” he added.

Mr. Zuckerberg, clad in a dark suit and tie, was trailed throughout his Capitol Hill visit by a swarm of reporters and camera crews. He declined to comment.

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SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal, John D. McKinnon, Lindsay Wise, and Rebecca Ballhaus