Facebook has found itself in a lot of trouble this month, amid new reports that it sold political advertising to fake Russian accounts during the election, and its employees visited Trump’s campaign offices to assist with the campaign’s advertising efforts. That means Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has some explaining to do, particularly since he personally met with a Trump campaign adviser during the election.
Back in May of 2016, as the general election was getting started, Zuckerberg met with Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett and a few other conservative political leaders. The meeting took place publicly; CNN and other news outlets reported on it when it happened. The official story at the time was that the meeting was to deal with claims that Facebook had been suppressing conservative-slanted news. But in light of what we now know, the meeting takes on an entirely different context.
The truth has turned out to be that, rather than suppressing conservative real-news articles, Facebook during the general election was allowing conservative and pro-Trump fake news articles to spread across its network. Much of this fake news is now known to have originated in Russia. Facebook then went on to let Russia purchase advertising which benefited Donald Trump. And as the Donald Trump campaign has since admitted to the BBC, Facebook lent its employees to the Trump campaign to help with its online advertising campaign. What does this all add up to?
None of this proves that Facebook and Zuckerberg were purposely letting the election to be rigged for their own profit. Facebook’s ad buys are processed by computer algorithms, and the Russian ad buy may have been simple computerized incompetence. Nor is there any evidence that Trump adviser Barry Bennett was involved in the Trump-Russia scandal. However, Zuckerberg’s meeting with the Trump campaign during the election, supposedly about conservative news articles on Facebook, considering how things ended up playing out, raises eyebrows.