Mark Zuckerberg says the idea that fake news on Facebook swung the election is ‘pretty crazy’

Currency

Since Donald Trump‘s stunning election victory, some people have been very quick to blame Facebook — specifically, the proliferation of fake news on the social network that President Obama called a “dust cloud of nonsense” — for swinging the vote against Hillary Clinton.

Mark Zuckerberg thinks otherwise.

“Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg says speaking on stage at the Techonomy conference.

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In fact, he says, if you believe that fake news spread by Facebook had a major impact on the election, it betrays a “profound lack of empathy,” showing that you don’t take Trump supporters and their stances seriously.

“If you believe that, then I don’t think you’ve internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send,” Zuckerberg says, though he didn’t get the chance to elaborate on this point.

He also says that while Clinton supporters are concerned about fake news that supports the worldview of Trump supporters, it ignores the idea that there’s an equal amount of false stories the other way.

“Why would you think that there’d be fake news on one side and not the other?” Zuckerberg asks.

Related: Top Mark Zuckerberg quotes

“In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” 

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“People don’t care about what you say, they care about what you build.”

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“You are better off trying something and having it not work and learning from that than not doing anything at all.”

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“In terms of doing work and in terms of learning and evolving as a person, you just grow more when you get more people’s perspectives.”

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“People can be really smart or have skills that are directly applicable, but if they don’t really believe in it, then they are not going to really work hard.”

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“Building a mission and building a business go hand-in-hand.”

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“We look for people who are passionate about something. In a way, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about.”

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“The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’ … Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time.”

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“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”

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“People think innovation is just having a good idea but a lot of it is just moving quickly and trying a lot of things.”

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“I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.”

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“The question isn’t, ‘What do we want to know about people?’, It’s, ‘What do people want to tell about themselves?'”

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“So many businesses get worried about looking like they might make a mistake, they become afraid to take any risk. Companies are set up so that people judge each other on failure.”

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“I would rather be in the cycle where people are underestimating us. It gives us latitude to go out and make big bets that excite and amaze people.”

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“My goal was never to just create a company. A lot of people misinterpret that, as if I don’t care about revenue or profit or any of those things. But what not being ‘just’ a company means to me is building something that actually makes a really big change in the world.”

Photo credit: Getty 

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‘I think people are smart’

In general, Zuckerberg says, it’s always smart to bet that people can separate truth from lies for themselves, and that they know what issues matter to them, even as “we do our best” to remove hoaxes as they pop up.

And, in response to the idea of a “filter bubble,” or the concept that Facebook’s News Feed insulates its users from articles and stories representing dissenting viewpoints, Zuckerberg says that those articles do indeed appear, “you just don’t click on it, you just tune it out when you see it.”

Instead, it’s simply that people are good at recognizing what matters to them, and better than people give them credit for at navigating conflicting sources of information.

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“I think people are smart, and that people understand what is important to them,” Zuckerberg says.

Overall, Zuckerberg — who made it clear that he wasn’t a huge fan of President-elect Trump in the months leading up to the election — struck an optimistic and conciliatory tone.

He says that stuff like building virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and working at scientific breakthroughs will still go on within Facebook and outside of it, regardless of who’s at the helm of the government.

“Well, we have a lot of work to do, but that would have been true either way,” Zuckerberg says. “It would not be right to suggest that it changes the fundamental arc of technology and progress over time.”

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