Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday vigorously defended Facebook Inc. against criticism that fake news and misinformation on the social media site may have swayed the outcome of the presidential election, emphasizing his view that Facebook’s role isn’t to be “arbiters of truth.”
Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive and co-founder, said in a lengthy post that less than 1% of the site’s world-wide content could be classified as fake.
“We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here,” Zuckerberg wrote.
The Facebook CEO also made clear, however, that there is a fine line between battling fake news and getting into the murkier territory of deciding what information is factual or not.
“I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves,” he wrote.
In addition, Zuckerberg made clear that deliberately misleading information comprises less than 1% of what is on Facebook, thus couldn’t have had much of an impact on the election.
“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic,” he wrote. “Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.
Zuckerberg’s words come as criticism mounts over the possibility that Facebook played too influential a role in tipping the election in the favor of Donald Trump. The New York Times published an article Saturday suggesting that insiders at the company are evaluating whether the social network’s algorithms are operating properly.
“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” said Zuckerberg, speaking last Thursday night at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg said Facebook compelled Americans to head to polling places on Election Day. “We helped more than 2 million people register to vote, and based on our estimates we got a similar number of people to vote who might have stayed home otherwise,” he wrote.