When people feel stunned by a result — especially one that defied statistics — it’s natural to look for explanations. In the days following Donald Trump’s presidential election win, pundits have raced to point fingers at Hillary Clinton, voter turnout, rural America, and, perhaps most surprisingly, at Facebook. Pundits are claiming that the election swung on the website’s “trending” section — which allowed news stories of questionable veracity to spread at lightning speed.
But was Facebook flawed? Or are we just blaming a mirror because we don’t like what we see? Where, precisely, does the obligation of an algorithm end and personal responsibility begin?