Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe his social network or news platform had any negative influence on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way, I think is a pretty crazy idea,” said the Facebook CEO Thursday night at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif..
Writing in a post on Facebook Saturday, the CEO responded again to critics who believe the social network didn’t do enough fight the spread of misinformation. Zuckerberg wrote it was “extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”
“We don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook. Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful,” said Zuckerberg in the post. The CEO did say the company will work on fake news stories, but said only a small amount is fake and news and hoaxes.”
Zuckerberg wrote: “Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”
As of right now, the social network relies on its users to police content, including fake news stories on Facebook.
Facebook is concerned about the issue of fake news spreading, and has been since May. The network has been trying to prevent misinformation from spreading to more than 44 percent of Americans who get their news from Facebook, according to Gizmodo.
A source with knowledge of the company’s decision making told Gizmodo Facebook executives reviewed policies earlier this year, which the goal to eliminate any political bias. The source, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retribution from the company said, “they absolutely have the tools to shut down fake news.” The source said, “there was a lot of fear about upsetting conservatives after Trending Topics,” and “decisions got caught up in that.” Facebook told Gizmodo that it “did not built and withhold any News Feed changes based on their potential impact on any one political party.”
The full statement reads: We did not build and withhold any News Feed changes based on their potential impact on any one political party. We always work to make News Feed more meaningful and informative, and that includes examining the quality and accuracy of items shared, such as clickbait, spam and hoaxes. Mark himself said, “I want to do everything I can to make sure our teams uphold the integrity of our products.” This includes continuously reviewing updates to make sure we are not exhibiting unconscious bias.
Even some Facebook employees have questioned whether the network should have done more to stop the fake news from spreading, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Zuckerberg also said the company isn’t planning to rush to fix the fake news content on the social network.
“This is an area where I believe we must proceed very carefully though. Identifying the ‘truth’ is complicated,” Zuckerberg said.” While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted. An even greater volume of stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual. I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.”