Zuckerberg privately recommended staff hires to Pete Buttigieg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles at South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg after after being asked about Buttigieg as a politician as they walk into the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center during a surprise visit to South Bend, Ind., Saturday, April 29, 2017.Michael Caterina | South Bend Tribune | APFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has privately made hiring recommendations to presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, Bloomberg News reported on Monday, revealing that the Big Tech executive has played a larger role in the 2020 election than was previously known.Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, each sent multiple emails to campaign manager Mike Schmuhl earlier this year, the outlet reported, and two of the individuals the couple recommended were eventually hired.The Buttigieg campaign confirmed the details to Bloomberg, though a spokesperson has not responded to a request for comment from CNBC.The recommendations are notable because they come amid heightened scrutiny on the social media platform. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another presidential contender, has threatened to break up the company and other technology giants, while conservatives have accused Zuckerberg of censoring right-wing voices.Facebook, which did not respond to a request for comment, has also been accused of providing a platform for disinformation during the last presidential election, and criticized for refusing to remove ads for President Donald Trump’s reelection that include false information.The company has said that it is taking measures to respond to the criticism. On Wednesday, Zuckerberg is expected to testify to House lawmakers about Facebook’s impact on the financial services and housing sectors.Buttigieg has criticized Facebook and the other Big Tech platforms, though he has not gone as far as Warren. In April, Buttigieg said that he would empower the FTC to take on a heightened regulatory role when it came to Facebook and the other platforms.According to Bloomberg, two of the individuals recommended by Zuckerberg and his wife are now on staff. Both of their roles appear to include working with technology. Eric Mayefsky works as senior digital analytics advisor, and Nina Wornhoff serves as organizing data manager, the outlet wrote.Wornhoff joined the campaign in April after working as a machine learning engineer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, according to her LinkedIn page. Mayefsky joined in June after working as the director of data science at Quora. He previously worked at Facebook from 2010 to 2013, his LinkedIn says.”Since the beginning of the campaign, we’ve built a top-tier operation with more than 430 staff in South Bend and around the country,” campaign spokesperson Chris Meagher told Bloomberg. “The staffers come from all types of background, and everyone is working hard every day to elect Pete to the White House.”Buttigieg has performed well among donors in Silicon Valley since unofficially launching his presidential bid in January.His connections to Zuckerberg stretch back to his college years: Buttigieg attended Harvard University at the same time that Zuckerberg was building what would become Facebook from his dorm room. Buttigieg ultimately became the 287th user of the platform. The two met years later when introduced by a mutual friend, according to Bloomberg.In 2017, Buttigieg drove Zuckerberg around South Bend, Indiana while Zuckerberg streamed the tour live.The Chan-Zuckerberg initiative did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC. A spokesman for the couple told Bloomberg, though, that Mayefsky and Wornhoff requested that Zuckerberg recommend them.”Having seen Mark’s visit to South Bend in 2017 and Facebook Live with Mayor Buttigieg, colleagues later asked Mark and Priscilla to connect them with the Buttigieg campaign as they were interested in joining,” the spokesman, Ben LaBolt, told Bloomberg.He noted that the couple had not yet decided on a candidate to support.

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