SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg addressed growing criticism of Facebook’s ascendant power to sway public opinion, saying the “small amount” of fake news that spread on the social network during the election did not influence the outcome.
“To think it influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said Thursday evening during the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Zuckerberg said people underestimated support for president-elect Donald Trump. “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 they saw some fake news,” Zuckerberg said. “If you believe that, then I don’t think you have internalized the message the Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.”
His remarks came as Trump’s presidential win prompted Silicon Valley soul searching, with some wondering whether the tools created here had run amok.
Tech investor Dave McClure, founder of the business accelerator 500 Startups, called technology “a propaganda medium” that has contributed to the growing spread of fake information. Social media seems to have also contributed to the dramatic rise in abuse and harassment on the Internet.
“People aren’t aware of the [expletive] they’re being told,” he said at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portgual, addressing Trump’s victory.