Margaret Sullivan writes: What a ridiculous notion, Mark Zuckerberg scoffed shortly after the election, that his social-media company — innocent, well-intentioned Facebook — could have helped Donald Trump’s win.
“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook . . . influenced the election in any way — I think is a pretty crazy idea,” he said. “Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.”
In fact, voters make their decisions based on many factors, not just their “lived experience.”
Disinformation spread on Facebook clearly was one — a big one. That was obvious in November. It was obvious in April when Facebook, to its credit, announced some moves to combat the spread of lies in the form of news stories.
It’s even more obvious now after Wednesday’s news that Facebook sold ads during the campaign to a Russian “troll farm,” targeting American voters with “divisive social and political messages” that fit right in with Donald Trump’s campaign strategy.
The news, reported Wednesday by The Washington Post, fits right in with the findings of a fascinating recent study by Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Analyzing reams of data, it documented the huge role that propaganda, in various forms, played in the 2016 campaign. [Continue reading…]