Blaming Facebook for President Donald Trump is 'crazy', says Mark Zuckerberg

Stories like 'FBI AGENT SUSPECTED IN HILLARY EMAIL LEAKS FOUND DEAD IN APPARENT MURDER-SUICIDE' are among the most popular on the site, and are also completely false

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The Independent Tech

It's "crazy" to say that Facebook helped Donald Trump win the election, Mark Zuckerberg has claimed.

In the wake of the unprecedented and shock election of Mr Trump, many have said that Facebook proved an important force in having him elected. Most Americans say that they get their news from social media and that mostly comes from Facebook – and the platform tends to amplify and encourage false or overblown news.

In the days before the election, for instance, an article was shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook. "FBI AGENT SUSPECTED IN HILLARY EMAIL LEAKS FOUND DEAD IN APPARENT MURDER-SUICIDE," the headline from the Denver Guardian read.

But the Denver Post doesn't exist, the FBI agent was not only not found dead but wasn't real, and the entire story was a hoax. It was promoted into people's Facebook news feeds because other people were sharing it, and because Facebook's algorithms look not so much at the truth of a piece but whether people want to talk about it.

Now Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to publicly speak out and reject the idea that those fake stories helped influence the course of the election.

"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," he said during a live chat at a technology conference in California.

He dismissed the idea that people come across those stories because they tend to inhabit social media "bubbles" where they just see news stories that support their own view points. That is despite findings from Facebook itself that people tend to read and share stories that they agree with.

"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."

He said that it was misguided to blame Facebook for the result of the election.

"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."