Mark Zuckerberg has come out in defense of Facebook and its news stream stating that the notion of the social network affected the US election results and paved way for Donald Trump’s victory is just a crazy idea.
Zuckerberg called this notion crazy at an on-stage chat at a Technonomy technology trends conference in California wherein he said that fake news on Facebook isn’t that huge and contrary to what many would believe, its amount is very small to affect the outcome of a major event like the US election. Another thing that Zuckerberg pointed was that why would people believe in hoax stories about just one candidate and not the other.
He also dismissed worries about Facebook users existing in “bubbles” where they only see news or perspectives echoing their viewpoints. He added that research gathered at Facebook suggests news-filter bubbles are not a problem.
“Voters make decisions based on their lived experience,” Zuckerberg said. “You don’t generally go wrong when you trust that people understand what they care about and what’s important to them and you build systems that reflect that.”
The social network found that while people may have a lot of friends very much like themselves, almost everyone at Facebook has someone in their mix who breaks the mold in some way, such as religion, ethnicity, or background.
However, Zuckerberg added, Facebook has also found that people are less inclined to click on links or otherwise check out shared stories that don’t line up with their views.
“We just tune out,” Zuckerberg said of the pattern. “I don’t know what to do about that.”
While acknowledging the importance of the election, he advised maintaining faith that most progress in innovation is made by private citizens, typically without help from the government.
“These elections make a real difference in the world, but it would not be right to suggest that it changes the fundamental arc of technology or progress over time,” Zuckerberg said.
The News Feed at Facebook has evolved from early days of being about sharing personal tidbits with friends or family to becoming a platform for important news.
Facebook continues to adapt to that shift, modifying the way it ranks stories as well as the community guidelines regarding what might be offensive, according to Zuckerberg.
He conceded there was a lot that could be improved and that the process was ongoing, but contended it was misguided to put blame on Facebook.
“I do think 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,” Zuckerberg said.
“If you believe that, then I don’t think you have internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.”