×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mark Zuckerberg: ‘Pretty Crazy Idea’ That Facebook Fake News Helped Donald Trump Win

Mark Zuckerberg dismissed critics who have blamed hoaxes and false news stories that spread across Facebook as somehow contributing to Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the U.S.

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” said Zuckerberg, speaking Thursday night at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Facebook, which has 1.79 billion monthly users worldwide, is in a powerful position as a media company (even though Zuckberberg keeps insisting that it’s a tech platform, not a media company). About 44% of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook — and 66% of U.S. Facebook users consume news on the social-media platform, per a Pew Research Center study in May.

Fake news disseminated on Facebook leading up to the election included a story insinuating that Hillary Clinton was involved in the suicide of an FBI agent investigating WikiLeaks emails, as well as hoaxes claiming that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was a satanist, that the Clintons bought a $200 million Maldives estate and that Hillary Clinton bought $137 million worth of illegal guns and ammunition.

To Zuckerberg, “there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news.”

“If you believe that,” he said, “I don’t think you have internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.”

Facebook has taken some steps to try to improve the quality of news users see in their News Feed. In August, it announced a new policy to begin penalizing stories with “clickbait” headlines.

Earlier this year the social giant was accused of political bias in its Trending Topics section to downgrade conservative-leaning stories. In response, Zuckerberg and other Facebook execs met with conservative commentators to discuss the issue. Facebook subsequently laid off the team of freelancers that managed Trends Topics, and replaced them with an algorithm-based automated system.

But despite all of Facebook’s efforts, fake news stories have continued to pop up on the site, including a hoax that Fox News was going to fire Megyn Kelly for backing Clinton.

Zuckerberg said on Thursday that the information people get through social media platforms like Facebook today is “inherently more diverse” than what Americans received decades ago when the major media outlets were three TV broadcasters and newspapers. That’s a good thing, he suggested — but the unfiltered torrent of news on the internet, real or made up, also makes it more difficult for people to figure out what’s true.

While Silicon Valley billionaire and Facebook board member Peter Thiel openly advocated for Trump — and spoke at the GOP convention this summer — other Facebook execs supported Clinton.

Zuckerberg earlier this year appeared to criticize Trump’s immigration and trade policies, saying in his keynote at the company’s F8 developers conference, “Instead of building walls, we can build bridges.” In response, a rep for Trump called Zuckerberg “self-righteous” and out of touch.

COO Sheryl Sandberg strongly endorsed Clinton’s bid to become the first woman president of the U.S., citing what such a historic event would mean for her children as well as the country’s future.

On Thursday, shares of Facebook and other tech heavyweights dropped despite a broader rally in the markets that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.17%. Facebook’s stock closed down 1.9%, as investors digested the potential for the Trump administration’s tech, immigration and trade policies to be negatives for Silicon Valley companies.

Zuckerberg, in a post on Wednesday evening on the social site, didn’t address how a Trump presidency might affect his company. Instead, he wrote optimistically about the future for his 11-month-old daughter, Max. “Holding Max, I thought about all the work ahead of us to create the world we want for our children,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post, which he tagged with “feeling hopeful.”

 

More Digital

  • Nick Eh 30, StoneMountain64

    CAA Signs Gaming Influencers Nick Eh 30, StoneMountain64

    CAA has signed two popular live-streaming battle royale gamers — Nicholas Amyoony, better known as Nick Eh 30, and David Steinberg, aka StoneMountain64 — for representation. CAA said it will work to create opportunities for Nick Eh 30 (above left) and StoneMountain64 (above right) in all areas, including TV, motion pictures, touring, digital distribution and [...]

  • Amazon Adds NBA League Pass to

    Amazon Adds NBA League Pass Live-Streaming Games to Prime Video Channels

    Amazon is bringing pro hoops action to Prime Video Channels: The ecommerce giant now offers NBA League Pass as part of its lineup of 150-plus subscription options for Prime members in the U.S. It’s the first U.S. live-sports subscription service on Prime Video Channels. Prime members can subscribe to NBA League Pass via Prime Video [...]

  • Fifty Shades of Grey

    International Piracy Ring Stole Over 25,000 Movie and TV Digital Files, U.S. Feds Say

    A five-member international hacking crime ring stole more than 25,000 files for Hollywood movies and TV shows and illegally offered hundreds of them for sale online, according to U.S. law enforcement officials. A federal grand jury in L.A. on Wednesday (Dec. 12) indicted five men, identified as residing in the U.K., India, Dubai and Malaysia, [...]

  • Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president

    Apple to Update iPhones in China to Avoid Sales Ban

    Apple is pushing out a software update to iPhones in China to address a recent court order obtained by Qualcomm that banned the sale of certain iPhone models in the country. The update will allow the company to continue selling its phones in China, company representatives told Reuters Friday morning. The Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court [...]

  • Kevin Reilly Variety Cover

    Kevin Reilly Named Content Chief for WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Kevin Reilly — a veteran television exec who has led programming at NBC, FX, Fox, and most recently Turner Broadcasting — has been tapped to head content strategy for the still-nascent streaming service that WarnerMedia plans to launch next year. Reilly, who has led programming at Turner brands TNT and TBS since 2015, will serve [...]

  • Apple Culver City

    Apple Expects to Have Over 1,000 Employees in Culver City by 2022

    Apple announced plans to boost its L.A. presence, saying it expects to have more than 1,000 employees in Culver City, Calif., over the next three years, including its growing entertainment team. The move is part of the tech giant’s broader initiative to create 20,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2023 and includes a new $1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content