It's Becoming Clear: Facebook Gave Presidency to Trump

The evidence is stacking up, writes Washington Post media columnist
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2017 7:07 AM CDT
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(Newser) – The idea that Facebook helped Donald Trump become president—an idea once dismissed by Mark Zuckerberg as "pretty crazy"—now looks anything but, writes media columnist Margaret Sullivan at the Washington Post. With the latest revelation that Facebook sold ads to a Russian "troll farm," it's becoming ever clearer that misinformation spread through the site was a large factor in turning voters against Hillary Clinton. Sullivan cites a Harvard study showing that propaganda factored large in the election and that Facebook was the "indispensable messenger" in spreading allegations about Clinton no matter how thin the evidence. "Would Donald Trump be president today if Facebook didn’t exist?" asks Sullivan. "Although there is a long list of reasons for his win, there’s increasing reason to believe the answer is no."

Expect the site to continue downplaying its role, but it's time to stop taking the word of the "terribly opaque enterprise," writes Sullivan. What Facebook won't acknowledge is that it is essentially a media company, one that serves as the main source of information for many of its users. And while it makes countless editorial decisions, it "never owns them." At the New York Times, meanwhile, a story lays out how Russians created what amounts to an army of fake virtual Americans who posted false information during the 2016 election. The story calls out not only Facebook but Twitter. These two companies "essentially invented the tools of social media," but "did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda," writes Scott Shane. (Click for the full Times story, and for Sullivan's column.)

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