Friday 22 June 2018

Varadkar meets with Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg as first visit to Davos comes to a close

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, addresses the Facebook Gather conference in Brussels, Belgium January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, addresses the Facebook Gather conference in Brussels, Belgium January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Donal O'Donovan in Davos

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar held meetings with business leaders including Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg this morning as he prepares to wrap up his first visit to the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Social media platforms, including Facebook, have met fairly sustained criticism from delegates and speakers at this year's event.

Calls to regulate the sector, including over the failure to verify news and the potential risk that loses to democracies has come from a cross section of speakers here ranging from UK prime minister Theresa May to business chiefs including the head of SalesForce.

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar will be among the audience for US President Donald Trump's key note speech at 1 o'clock Irish time, which will effectively close the conference where dozens of heads of government mingle with hundreds of businesses leaders, experts and heads of advocacy groups.

Davos tickets are free, but only by invite or to WEF members, whose annual membership fees can be as high as €500,000.

While much of the international media interest on Leo Varadkar has been around Brexit, the Taoiseach's main focus has been on business. As well as Facebook, he's met one-to-one with the heads of HP, Pfizer, IBM, Coca Cola, eBay - all big employers in Ireland.

Around 70 senior corporate executives also attended an IDA dinner, with Paschal Donohoe and Mr Varadkar.

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