Social media and the election through the eyes of Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg and more

The spotlight continues to shine brightly on the role of social media in the presidential election, with none other than the president-elect weighing in about it.

“I really believe that, um — the fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera, I think it helped me win all of these races where they’re spending much more money than I spent,” Donald Trump said in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night.

When asked whether he would continue to tweet as president, he said: “I’m going to do very restrained, if I use it at all, I’m going to do very restrained. I find it tremendous. It’s a modern form of communication. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of.”

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg further defended his company over the weekend after some people blamed fake news on the social network as a factor in Donald Trump’s victory.

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post. (Last week, he talked about the issue at a conference, calling it “crazy” that people would think Facebook influenced the election.) “Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes… this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other,” he said in the post. In addition, Zuckerberg in a reply to a comment contradicted the notion that Facebook enables users’ echo chambers. “The research shows that people are actually exposed to more diverse content on Facebook and social media than on traditional media like newspapers and TV,” he said.

But he reiterated the company’s earlier statement that it is working on combating fake news and hoaxes — although he added that “identifying the ‘truth’ is complicated.”

Gizmodo — whose stories about alleged bias against conservative sources in Facebook’s Trending news section heightened Facebook’s sensitivity to being perceived as too liberal and got Zuckerberg to admit that that’s not good for business — now reports that the company had a tool ready to “down rank” fake news and hoaxes in the News Feed but did not release it.

“One source said high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds,” Gizmodo wrote.

(Here’s a sample of fake news compiled by our own Pat May. Here’s a BuzzFeed story on how young Macedonians profited from running more than a hundred pro-Trump websites that pumped out fake news. A fake story about the Pope endorsing Trump was shared almost a million times, an academic told the New York Times.)

Also weighing in on all this over the weekend was an opponent of Trump’s policies and rhetoric, with a warning against the dangers of social media’s reach and influence.

“Social media has become Reality TV 2.0 — Immersive, always on, and best of all: Everyone gets to be the star of a custom designed digital echo chamber,” wrote Geoff Lewis, a partner at Founders Fund, which was co-founded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor who supports Trump and is joining his transition team. “Only this isn’t just another television show. This isn’t just another Twitter war. This is the most powerful nation in the one world we’ve got, folks,” Lewis said.

 

Photo from Getty Images

 

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