Zuckerberg hits back at Trump’s Facebook collusion claims
Yesterday, in one of Donald Trump’s more paranoid Twitter rants – a solid accolade in a highly competitive field – the president told his 34 million followers that all the networks were out to get him, alongside the New York Times, Washington Post and Facebook. “Collusion?” he finished his tweet with, perhaps believing that entrusting his followers to read between the lines was leaving too much to chance.
While the news media (and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – owner of the Washington Post) are used to the daily call-outs by our petulant president, this is new to Facebook – more often credited with aiding and abetting Trump’s election through the spread of fake news. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg – who 100% won’t be running for election against Trump in 37 months’ time – was suitably wounded enough to write a frustrated-sounding post denying bias on either side of the US political spectrum.
“Trump says Facebook is against him,” he wrote. “Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”
He went on to champion Facebook’s effort in increasing the political dialogue, giving candidates a platform and driving out the vote.
He did, however, find time to acknowledge that he hit the wrong tone when he said that Facebook changing the electoral outcome was a “pretty crazy idea”.
“Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it,” he wrote. “This is too important an issue to be dismissive. But the data we have has always shown that our broader impact – from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote – played a far bigger role in this election.”
It certainly seems to be the case that Zuckerberg isn’t enjoying the scrutiny that comes from a platform with almost a third of the planet among its members. Still, by publishing this message to his 96 million followers (significantly more than Trump’s Twitter audience of 34 million), he is perhaps learning one thing from Trump: if the wind is against you, you can at least make your own PR with the right platform to spread your message. After all, the only thing less likely than Trump getting banned from Twitter is Mark Zuckerberg losing his Facebook reach.