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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg meets with US lawmakers about regulation

Sandberg's meetings come as Facebook negotiates a privacy settlement with the FTC.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey And Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Testify To Senate Committee On Foreign Influence Operations
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is meeting with US lawmakers this week. 
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg returned to Washington this week to talk with US lawmakers about potential regulation of tech companies, the social network said Tuesday.

Sandberg's meetings come as Facebook negotiates a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over the tech giant's alleged privacy mishaps. The FTC could fine Facebook up to $5 billion, which would be a record for the agency. Two senators on Monday urged the FTC to hold Facebook's executives accountable for the company's privacy blunders. 

A Facebook spokesperson said the meetings were long planned and aren't related to the FTC investigation. Sandberg is also meeting with civil rights groups, though Facebook didn't say which ones. 

Bloomberg, which reported earlier about the meetings, said Sandberg was meeting with members of the Senate. That included Sen. Roger Wicker. a Republican from Mississippi and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who met with her to talk about potential federal privacy regulation. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas, who's also working on regulation that could restrict tech companies from collecting and using consumer data, planned to meet with Sandberg, too. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, also met with Sandberg, according to his office.

"As you know, we've been engaged in ongoing conversations about how we can put some guardrails around social media," Warner told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. "We discussed the challenges, whether it's from election interference or hate speech."

Sens. Wicker and Moran didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Facebook didn't share any more details about the meetings. 

The FTC started investigating Facebook after revelations surfaced last year that UK political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million users without their permission. US lawmakers have been under more pressure to regulate tech companies after Facebook's series of privacy and security scandals. 

Facebook says it isn't opposed to regulation. Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in April called for more regulation around harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability. Zuckerberg is expected to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, according to the president's office

Originally published May 7, 2:19 p.m. PT.
Update, 2:35 p.m.: Adds comment from Warner's office and background about Zuckerberg's meeting in France.