Mark Zuckerberg: Idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election is ‘pretty crazy’

Facebook’s role in the 2016 presidential election has ignited a debate about how much influence the social network had in Republican Donald Trump’s path to victory.

Some people are blaming Facebook, arguing that its 1.8 billion users often saw posts that conform to their political beliefs and fake election-related news.

But Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn’t buying that argument.

“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 I think is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay on Thursday.

Even though people are still trying to understand what led to Trump’s surprising victory, voters make decisions about political candidates based on the experiences they’ve lived, he said.

“I do think there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason why someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news,” he said. “I think if you believe that then I don’t think you have internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.”

“The quickest way I think to refute the fact that this surely had not impact is why would you think there would be fake news on one side but not the other?” he said.

Reporter Pat May compiled a list of the top fake election stories here.

Zuckerberg also doesn’t think that a “filter bubble” fueled Trump’s path to the White House. The 32-year-old CEO argued that people on the social network get a more diverse range of news than they would in the past, but have their own internal filters.

“I think that we would all be surprised how many things that don’t conform to our world view that we just tune out. We just don’t click on them,” he said. “I don’t know what to do about that.”

But Zuckerberg’s remarks still don’t have everyone convinced.

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Kirstina Sangsahachart/Daily News)


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  • Adam

    ““The quickest way I think to refute the fact that this surely had not impact is why would you think there would be fake news on one side but not the other?,” he said.”
    Zuckerberg is being insultingly disingenuous here. Of course there was fake news “on both sides”, but college educated voters, who voted disproportionately for Clinton, are less susceptible to being fooled by fake news. And besides, Donald Trump provided real news stories that were just as absurd and over the top as any fake story – because he was, in fact, an absurd candidate who said and did absurd, over the top, things.

  • Richard Vesel

    I like Facebook, and I use Facebook.
    But, it is one of the fastest ways for the unscrupulous and lout-mouths to spread completely false bovine excrement ever invented by humankind up to this point in history. A little filtering and fact checking would be nice to have for this “news medium of the 21st century”, eh?

  • Distorting people’s sense of reality, bending the truth, a perfect tool for bullying, slander and stalking, substituting real human connections, a permanent time-consuming distraction that makes people loose focus, “Big Brother is watching you wherever you go”… Will there ever be turning of the tide?