Two months before he left office, former president Barack Obama met with Mark Zuckerberg to try to influence the Facebook CEO on how to deal with so-called fake news.
“Nine days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as ‘crazy’ the idea that fake news on his company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election, President Barack Obama pulled the youthful tech billionaire aside and delivered what he hoped would be a wake-up call,” The Washington Post reports.
Now huddled in a private room on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in Lima, Peru, two months before Trump’s inauguration, Obama made a personal appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously, though the president did not single out Russia specifically. Unless Facebook and the government did more to address the threat, Obama warned, it would only get worse in the next presidential race.
Zuckerberg acknowledged the problem posed by fake news. But he told Obama that those messages weren’t widespread on Facebook and that there was no easy remedy, according to people briefed on the exchange, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of a private conversation.
The conversation on Nov. 19 was a flashpoint in a tumultuous year in which Zuckerberg came to recognize the magnitude of a new threat — a coordinated assault on a U.S. election by a shadowy foreign force that exploited the social network he created.
Democrats have gone all-in on the completely unproven assertion that Russia pumped out thousands of fake news stories, which resulted in Hillary Clinton loss in the presidential race. Facebook recently revealed that Russian sources bought political advertisements on the social media platform — $100,000 worth. The contention by Democrats is that that was enough to flip the election.