Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied the spread of fake news on the News Feed was one of the reasons for Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential elections. Zuckerberg spoke at Technonomy conference in an interaction with David Kirkpatrick, who asked about Facebook’s role in the recently concluded US Presidential elections.
Facebook has been under scathing criticism with some in the media saying the company didn’t do enough to suppress fake articles against the Clinton campaign and allowed fake, pro-Trump stories to keep getting shared, re-shared on the website.
When asked about his thoughts on the election, Zuckerberg’s statement was pretty much similar to what he wrote on Facebook. “We have a lot of work to do. That would have been true either way. I don’t want to downplay the significance of this, because elections have serious consequences for everyone in the country and probably around the world,” he said. While the Facebook CEO didn’t actually say anything against President-elect Trump, he added that people shouldn’t lose focus on the fact that progress will continue.
When asked if Facebook had a clue that Trump would win or that it knew about how influential he was with his supporters, Zuckerberg denied they could have predicted the same. “There’s not really a way that a company like ours would happen to know something like that. We could do that, but so could someone else,” he pointed out.
The Facebook CEO was also not convinced by the idea that Facebook didn’t filter out enough fake stories, which affected the election outcome. “When it comes to News Feed ranking we are very transparent, and every time we make a change we tell people what we’re doing. The idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way I think is a pretty crazy idea,” he said.
He also said there was a profound lack of empathy if people actually believe that fake news was the only responsible for someone voting the way they did in the election. “If you believe that, then I don’t think you have internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send in this election,” he added.
Zuckerberg also asked, “Why do you think there will be fake news on one side and not the other.” He said their research shows the ‘filter bubble’ of Facebook is not really a problem.
He also suggested Facebook is a lot more diverse than regular mainstream news outlets and that people ‘tend to tune out’ when they see views, ideas which they don’t agree with. “I don’t know what to do about that,” he said.