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Saturday, 12 November 2016

R-E-V-E-A-L-E-D, How Facebook Helped Donald Trump to Win

                                       US President Elect Mr. Donald Trump

From the point of view of casual observers, Facebook may not have set out deliberately to help Donald Trump win the Presidency of the United States. What transpired is that Facebook was lax in controlling the use of its platform for propaganda which greatly benefited Mr. Trump who cashed in on it to create fear and loathing in the minds of many voters.

Mr. Trump’s ascendancy is a direct consequence of Facebook’s conquering invasion of our social, cultural, and political lives with full force 24/7. That is awesome power no doubt.  After the elections, it has become clearer that the most obvious way in which Facebook enabled a Trump victory has been its inability (or refusal) to address the problem of hoax or fake news. Facebook’s enormous audience, and the mechanisms of distribution on which the site relies — i.e., the emotionally charged activity of sharing, and the show-me-more-like-this feedback loop of the news feed algorithm played out very well in favor of Donald Trump.

All throughout the election, fake stories, sometimes papered over with flimsy “parody site” disclosures somewhere in small type, circulated throughout Facebook very freely. For example, there were stories like “The Pope endorses Trump.” “Hillary Clinton bought $137 million in illegal arms.” “The Clintons bought a $200 million house in the Maldives.”  Many of these fake but highly sensational stories got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of shares, likes, and comments.

The indirect beneficiary ultimately was Donald Trump since such stories fitted perfectly into his campaign rhetoric. Tens of millions of people, invigorated by insurgent outsider candidates and anger at perceived political enemies, were served up or shared emotionally charged news stories about the candidates, because Facebook’s sorting algorithm understood from experience that they were seeking such stories. With its over 1.2 billion users, these stories literally appeared to make Donald Trump a lesser evil than Mrs. Clinton all around the world and that showed up clearly in the balloting.

The question then is, was American electorate misled by Facebook? That is difficult to answer but if inadvertently, a very firm YES. The moral burden Facebook now faces is that whether through a failure of resources, of ideology, or of imagination, Facebook has seemed both uninterested in and incapable of even acknowledging that it has become the most efficient distributor of misinformation in human history. Very sad indeed!!!

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