Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg fired back at President Donald Trump on Wednesday after the commander-in-chief took to rival social media site Twitter to accuse Facebook of being biased against him.
Trump tweeted “Facebook was always anti-Trump,” while also blasting TV networks and papers like The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Zuckerberg emphatically denied Trump’s statement in a post on his personal Facebook page, saying the social network has drawn fire from both the left and the right.
“Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”
The 33-year-old exec then gave a mea culpa over his previous dismissals of the idea that fake news could have influenced last year’s presidential election.
“After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea,” said Zuckerberg. “Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive. But the data we have has always shown that our broader impact — from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote — played a far bigger role in this election.”
The president’s barb rounds out a trying month for the world’s largest social media company.
Facebook recently admitted Russian agencies bought more than $100,000 worth of ads before and after the 2016 election, aiming to divide users on hot-button issues like gun control, immigration and race. Last week, the company agreed to turn over 3,000 ads to Congress.
Zuckerberg went on to address a number of points on Facebook’s role in the 2016 election, adding “we will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections.”
The Facebook co-founder purchased The New Republic in 2012, becoming executive chairman and publisher. However, he sold the venerable political magazine to Win McCormack in 2016, saying he "underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate."
The eBay founder is a well-known philanthropist who created First Look Media, a journalism venture behind The Intercept. Inspired by Edward Snowden's leaks. Omidyar teamed up with journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras to launch the website “dedicated to the kind of reporting those disclosures required: fearless, adversarial journalism.”
The PayPal co-founder doesn’t own a news organization, but he makes this list because he essentially ended one -- Gawker -- proving once again the power of an angry billionaire. Thiel secretly bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s sex-tape lawsuit against Gawker Media because he was upset that the website once outed him as gay. Hogan won the defamation lawsuit against the site that sent its parent company into bankruptcy, and Gawker.com is no longer operating.
OK, so Facebook isn’t technically a news organization… yet. However, the company is preparing to launch its much-anticipated lineup of original content later this summer, and there are also signs that it's on the verge of becoming an even bigger media platform.
Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, confirmed last week it’s developing a subscription service for publishers willing to post articles directly to Facebook Instant Articles, rather than their native websites.