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11th Nov 2016

Mark Zuckerberg has reacted to accusations Facebook helped Trump win

The Facebook founder wasn't happy with the suggestion.

Mike Wright

Mark Zuckerberg has defended Facebook from accusations it helped influence the US election in favour of Donald Trump.

Following the Republican’s shock victory some media outlets have openly questioned Facebook’s growing political influence and role in the result.

The social media outlet, which has more than 1.6 billion users worldwide, has come in for criticism in the past for the way false and hyper-partisan news goes viral in people’s news feeds.

Facebook does have an influence over what its users see due to its algorithm, which decides what posts surface in people’s feeds.


Photo: Brian Solis

Although Facebook never reveals exactly how the algorithm chooses what goes into people feeds, it does learn from users past behaviour.

This has led to criticism that Facebook can create an echo chamber effect, where people end up being far more likely to only see news and political content that accords with their world view.

Following Trump’s victory the LA Times pointed out that over 40 per cent of Americans now get their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Centre.

The paper’s tech writer, David Pierson, argued that the echo chamber effect of Facebook’s news feed helped Trump get around some of his more embarrassing moments in the campaign.

He said: “The consequences of Facebook’s growing sway became clear during an election cycle that saw the rise of partisan news, conspiracies, fake articles and a winning candidate who fully embraced social media as a way to circumvent the media establishment and its proclivity for checking facts.”


Photo: WikiMedia

People like the BBC’s Tech Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, have gone further by asking whether Facebook was actually the decisive factor in Trump’s victory.

The accusations have clearly rankled the Facebook founder, who responded to them at a technology conference in California yesterday.

Zuckerberg said: “The idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.

“If you believe that then I don’t think you have internalised the message Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.”