Mark Zuckerberg Denies Bogus Facebook News Feed Stories Affected U.S. Election

Facebook as a real problem with the way it vets news articles and posts them to people's Feeds. The social network has taken steps to remove human bias from the equation, but in doing so, false stories have begun to litter the landscape. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is well aware of the issue, though he insists that fake news stories did not impact the results of the recent presidential election in the U.S.

Given the number of eyeballs that Facebook attracts on a daily basis, it is understandable to think that news content can sway users in how they perceive a candidate running for office. That puts the social network in a sticky situation, one that isn't so easy to solve.

Mark Zuckerberg

Back before Facebook relied almost entirely on an algorithm to sort through news articles, there were accusations that its news team was actively suppressing conservative news outlets in the Trending News bar. This led to questions about Facebook's impartiality in the political race. The concern was compounded when Wikileaks published emails between Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, suggesting a heavy bias towards the Clinton camp.

Facebook took humans out of the equation (mostly, anyway) and what has happened since then is that fake news articles are being presented as real ones. It's not always obvious. Nevertheless, Zuckerberg says there weren't enough of them to have any impact on the election.

"I’ve seen some of the stories you are talking about around this election and 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.," Zuckerberg stated at Techonomy16.

He also said it's insulting to Trump supporters to buy into the narrative that they could have been so easily fooled and manipulated by Facebook.

"Part of what I think is going on here is people are trying to understand the result of the election, but I do think that there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news. If you believe that then, I don’t think you have internalized the message that Trump supporters are trying to send in this election.," Zuckerberg added.

He also pointed out that Facebook has been transparent with its News Feed ranking, noting that it publishers every time there's a change to how it works along with an explanation for that change. That's been true for the most part, though regardless of the impact fake news may or may not have, it's something Facebook should prioritize fixing, even if only to remove any doubt.