The movie The Social Network depicted Mark Zuckerberg as a sniveling coward who was bad with women. Zuckerberg laughed off the depiction, claiming it was false. Maybe he was right. After all, what we’ve learned about him since has been far, far worse. Today, Facebook is a haven for misinformation about election fraud, COVID-19, and much else besides. And a new book alleges that two years ago he effectively agreed that when it came to Donald Trump and his oft-baseless claims, he would look the other way.
On Monday, New York magazine published a lengthy excerpt from The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power, a new book by Max Chafkin about the billionaire and Zuckerberg confidant. Chafkin talks about a meeting in 2019 between Zuckerberg, Thiel, Trump, Jared Kushner, and their spouses. Though details of the pow-wow are not known, Thiel later claimed that Zuckerberg “came to an understanding” with Kushner:
Facebook, he promised, would continue to avoid fact-checking political speech — thus allowing the Trump campaign to claim whatever it wanted. If the company followed through on that promise, the Trump administration would lay off on any heavy-handed regulations.
Afterwards, the book claims, Zuckerberg “took a hands-off approach to conservative sites,” and even rolled out the red carpet for such far right sites as Breitbart and The Daily Wire. A Thiel confidant said Facebook had essentially started pushing “state-sanctioned conservatism.”
Zuckerberg denied the Trump quid pro quo, calling the claim “pretty ridiculous.” But, Chafkin argues, Facebook’s actions after the 2019 meeting suggest otherwise:
During Black Lives Matter protests, Twitter hid a post by the president that seemed to condone violence: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”; Face¬book allowed it. In the days leading up to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Facebook mostly ignored calls to limit the spread of “Stop the Steal” groups, which claimed that Trump had actually won the election.
Whether a deal happened or not, Facebook has definitely changed. What began as a way for millennials to connect online has evolved into a place to brainwash millennials’ parents.
(Via New York)