Zuckerberg: it's crazy to think Facebook fake news influenced voting

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/11/10/zuckerberg-its-crazy-to-thi.html


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg denies this, saying that Facebook doesn’t influence people’s decisions…

Wouldn’t a communications medium which didn’t influence people’s decisions essentially be a failure? Is that what Zuckerberg is admitting - that Facebook is a completely ineffective platform?


Agh! I thought you were going to be done with those shoops post election. (I’m very naive and optimistic at heart.)


need 13 for a calendar


I’ll hold out for the swimsuit edition.


Use it to raise locksmith money, and I’ll buy one. (Though I really want the safe cracker bot / webcam combo.)


People believe whatever they hear first, even if it is proven to be completely false to their satisfaction, their long term memory tends to just retain the original statement.

The business of Hillary being a liar goes back to a 1996 William Safire article which itself was a series of cobbled-together lies.

So, those crazy memes do have an impact on people, even if they don’t know it.


Gasp! I never thought I’d see someone who just got Turmp elected say something that is obvious horseshit.

That said, although more than 90% of witless dunderfucks’ political misinformation passes through Facebook’s sluices, I’m not convinced Facebook is essential to the process. The driving force is still, ultimately, hateful uncles, and there are plenty of other internet businesses willing to exploit and enable that force should Facebook ever decide to experiment with decency.


Remember all this from earlier this year?

Breitbart. Trump. Get it?


“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.”

I mean, really? There’s a lack of empathy involved in saying that people voted for Trump because they were mislead by what they saw as “news”? As opposed to, saying they voted for Trump because they had actually had accurate information from other sources but still decided to vote for the Horror Clown? I’d say that suggesting a Trump voter wasn’t very bright and was taken in by fake news is pretty much the kindest interpretation of why they voted for Trump.
Seems like old Zuck is going through some real contortions here to avoid admitting his responsibility in creating - or at least majorly contributing to - the phenomenon of the no information voter. I can see why he’d want to do that, because to acknowledge it would be to admit his role in destroying the very possibility of American democracy.


I have this crazy suspicion that he is slightly more optimistic about the influence of Facebook when pitching to advertisers…


As long as we’re talking about it, how about all the free media coverage that The Donald managed to get, despite buying far less ad space than either Clinton or Sanders? Without all that media exposure, this laughable joke of a candidate wouldn’t have had a chance.


Ironic timing to come across this BB item, as I just put on my hip waders and wandered through Facebook for a few minutes as a post-election cultural expedition.

I could only handle a few minutes, and had to choke back the vomit and leave after reading an article about how prayer and a meddling god swung the election. The very minute that some BS christian charlatan show went on the air election night, the power of prayer shifted the entire momentum in REDACTED’s favor. It turns out god hates Hillary, too. Who knew?

I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook, like religion, serves a purpose. Just not for me.


Seconded. Sheesh, that one made me jump. Are these mouth-for-eyes images going to be posted forever? They are not wonderful things.

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So Zukerberg’s denial is one of those “what people hear first” things? Oy!

“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.”

Whoever said anything about only?


Demagogues have always been part of democracy.

A demagogue (Mirriam Webster) is…
(1) a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason
(2) a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times

In the first democracy, the people voted to exclude women, and the poor from power; voted for apparently unpopular and expensive wars with their neighbours; and voted for exile or death sentences on people who voiced opinions against them. In the end, the return of the tyrants may have been a welcome stability. And all of this was done because the average man is pretty average, and can be moved by rhetoric, confirmation bias, and the skillful orator; and is almost immune to reason.

I have seen this in the UK. Europe have given us pollution laws that have cleaned up our beaches, employment laws that have restricted the worse forms or our capitalism; human rights laws which have limited our police powers; and laws against racism and discrimination. They are even talking of having a basic a basic wage for all whether they work or now, for whatever reason. And the common people have voted against all this, and placed their hopes in a Tory 1% government. These are the people who outsourced your job; closed your local school; forced up house prices and increased the top limits of loans, and repossessed your house when you could not keep up the payments; and are trying to break up the NHS, and charge you for going to see your doctor. Those guys aren’t going to save you. They are so not. Look at them: there is a small kleptarch clique who right now is trying to force through Brexit unconstitutionally because they fear they do not have the following of the rest of the House of Commons.

Me today, you tomorrow.

So, what’s the deal with Zuckerberg, Fox News, Murdoch, et hoc genus omne? They are rich people, and I expect they all like the way things are going. However, they can claim to just be representing the political scene as they find it. But, in doing so, they reduce every argument to a face-to-face confrontation with soundbytes. They make Brexit and Trump happen, and say ‘it wasn’t me’, and ‘the constitution says I can, so there’.

So, what can we do? I don’t really know. I feel there ought to be some anti-twitter where you cannot post anything that isn’t a reasoned argument of less than 1K bytes with diagrams. I feel debates should be written rather than spoken, and the speaker should not be seen; so oratory and passion can not be used to move the mob. Debaters should be allowed to use notes and diagrams, and to reply in their own time. Something like that, maybe?

It won’t be easy. The demagogues have always been there. They are each dug in like a toad in a stone. It won’t be easy to shift them.


We need to move away from debates, and start having discussions, because the only way to win at a discussion is to learn something new from the other side (my personal understanding of the difference between debate and discussion)


I did some tech support contracting for a London-based PR agency whose entire existence relied on the fact they could get people to allow them write-access to their social media feeds in such a way that their friends would see carefully crafted posts as recommendations for products or companies, the key selling point being that recommendations have more influence than advertisements. Thanks to certain clauses in my contract, I can’t tell you who this company was or who their clients are, but you definitely know them and wouldn’t be surprised given how pervasive their brands are.

Oh Zuckerberg, you used to seem so intelligent…

(EDITS: I really can’t write pre-coffee)


If elections are influenced by bullshit that people post on FB or Twitter or television, or where ever, then, definitely, the country gets the leader they deserve. This is not remedied by curbing people’s freedom of speech, or imposing ‘moral obligations’ on Zuckerberg, but by better schooling and education and teaching kids to know a bullshit artist when they see one. Teach them about Joseph Goebbels and Steve Bannon and the likes and how to deal with their propaganda.


Which one? There are so many to choose from, and they all disagree.