Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that he was wrong to dismiss the idea that so called “fake news” on Facebook influenced the election last year. He originally called this a “crazy” notion. I’m glad he has admitted to this wrong doing because it had a huge impact on the election. We are finding out more and more (almost daily) about how Russians paid for ad space and then manipulated that into “news” in order to sway the public perception. Which is why I think it’s great to see him walking his original statement back. “Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it”, Zuckerberg wrote in Facebook post on Friday. This is kind of ironic in my opinion. He went on to say that this issue is too important to be dismissed.
This is all happening at an interesting time. Trump tweeted (big surprise) that Facebook has always been “anti-Trump”, and Zuckerberg wanted to speak to that. And rightfully so. Some people have been saying that Facebook helped Trump get elected, while Trump is saying that the network is anti-Trump. It’s like he can’t win. Trump also didn’t say what prompted this claim. If you are familiar with Trumps tweets, it doesn’t matter. He tweeted something last week about a missile launch in Iran – indicating that it had happened that day or the day before. But it had really happened in early 2017. So the Facebook CEO could have said something in 2015, that Trump is now hearing about. For someone who is on social media all the time, he certainly can’t keep up.
Zuckerberg’s response to Trump focused on what he deems to be Facebook’s positive influence on public discourse – specifically last year’s election. He wrote about giving people a voice and added that “we ran “get out the vote” efforts that helped as many as 2 million people register to vote”. Yes, Mr. President, that helped you. So how is Facebook anti-Trump? But it’s been a tough go for Facebook since the election. The company has admitted that users gamed its News Feed algorithm in order to spread misinformation during the election. It was also revealed that Facebook sold more than $100,000 worth of ads to Russian controlled accounts. Which makes it look like Trump benefited from Facebook during the election.
What, then, has gotten Trump’s knickers bunched up in this tight knot? Honestly, no one really knows. Yes, there has been a lot of media coverage indicating that Trump benefited from these things. But nothing has come of it, so far. And maybe it never will. Hopefully this will become part of the evidence needed to “prove” that the election was hacked, or controlled in some way by outside forces. I say “prove” with quotes because I think we all know what happened, but being able to prove it is another matter. And while it would be great to try Donald Trump in the court of public opinion, but that won’t necessarily get him removed from his current post as President of the United States.