Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has rejected the idea that fake news on the social network could’ve swayed voters either way in the recent US election.
It’s no secret that everyone’s Facebook and Twitter feeds have the tendency to become echo chambers. It’s also fair to say there’s more than a little fake news populating social media streams. But can both of these everyday realities be responsible for swinging a general election?
A recent piece on The Guardian‘s website opines this may have been the case; columnist Olivia Solon points to a raft of misinformation spread on the social media website – some of which was repeated by Trump himself – and the fact that Facebook continues to dodge its responsibility as a media company (“the media company”) as more than a little problematic.
Zuckerberg took time out at the Techonomy conference near San Francisco yesterday to say Facebook didn’t affect voters, dismissing the idea as “pretty crazy”.
“People vote based on their lived experiences,” Zuckerberg said. “There is a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw fake news.”
Zuckerberg went on to say that he didn’t believe that Facebook user-feeds were becoming curated to the point of making them into echo-chambers.
“Even if 90% of your friends are Democrats, probably 10% are Republicans. Even if you live in some state or country you will know some people in another state, another country,” he said.
Fake news has become something of a bigger problem in recent times. This year, the South African News Editors’ Forum said it was considering taking action to bring down fake news sites, since the disinformation they spread could have wide-ranging and damaging effects.