Former President Barack Obama warned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of fake news emanating from his site after the election last year, but was told there was “no easy fix.”
The two reportedly met Nov. 19 in Lima, Peru at a gathering of world leaders, two months before President Trump’s inauguration. Obama’s warning came after Zuckerberg said the idea that fake news on Facebook somehow affected the election was “crazy.”
A Washington Post piece claims Zuckerberg discovered elements of the Russian plot to publish links to fake news on the election as early as June 2016 but failed to address the problem in an effective and concise manner.
Zuckerberg announced this week he would be turning over thousands of documents to congressional committees regarding the purchase of $100,000 worth of advertising by a Kremlin-linked company. The billionaire entrepreneur has taken immense criticism for not nipping this issue in the bud sooner.
“There’s been a systematic failure of responsibility” on Facebook’s part, said Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who studies social media companies’ impact on society and governments. “It’s rooted in their overconfidence that they know best, their naivete about how the world works, their extensive effort to avoid oversight, and their business model of having very few employees so that no one is minding the store.”
Facebook says it responded appropriately.
“We believe in the power of democracy, which is why we’re taking this work on elections integrity so seriously, and have come forward at every opportunity to share what we’ve found,” said Elliot Schrage, vice president of Facebook’s public policy and communications. A spokesperson for Obama declined to comment.
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