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November 11, 2016

Facebook’s Zuckerberg claims fake news on site did not swing Trump victory

Facebook CEO claims that people are not understanding the 'message that Trump voters are trying to send.'

By Alexander Sword

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg accused critics of Facebook’s news curation feature of a “profound lack of empathy” as he denied reports that fake news on his site had influenced the US election result.

Speaking at Techonomy in an interview that was broadcast live on Facebook, Zuckerberg said that he thought the idea that fake news on his site influenced the election was “a pretty crazy idea”.

“Voters make decisions based on their lived experience. We really believe in people; 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 around that.”

Zuckerberg also indicated that he thought that commentators were failing to “internalise the message that Trump voters are trying to send.”

Zuckerberg’s comments followed the surprise US Presidential Election victory of Donald Trump over opponent Hillary Clinton.

“People are trying to understand the result of the election,” Zuckerberg said, “but I think that there is a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason that someone could have voted the way that they did is because they saw fake news.”

ZuckerbergZuckerberg said in the same interview that hoaxers were nothing new to Facebook and that the amount of fake content on the site was “a very small volume.”

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While some commentary has focused on the ease of sharing news across Facebook as a way for these fake stories to spread, the more damaging criticism is of Facebook’s news curation feature.

The Trending feature on Facebook shows users a list of topics and hashtags that have recently spiked in popularity on the site.

In August, Facebook replaced its human Trending team with an algorithm, which was almost immediately lambasted for serving fake news including a story that Fox journalist Megyn Kelly had been sacked over her conflict with Donald Trump.

“A more algorithmically driven process allows us to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time,” Facebook wrote in the blog about the announcement.

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