Facebook helped put Trump in office: Exec

LAS VEGAS • A senior Facebook executive has said the world's biggest social network unintentionally helped put Mr Donald Trump in the White House, but warned against dramatic rule changes.

The Trump campaign did effectively use Facebook to rally support, and the platform should be mindful of that without making moves that stifle free political discourse, Mr Andrew Bosworth said in a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, triggered by The New York Times publishing an internal memo he wrote.

"So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?" Mr Bosworth asked. "I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks."

Mr Bosworth contended that Mr Trump was not elected because of Russia or misinformation, but because he ran "the single best digital ad campaign I've ever seen from any advertiser".

He added that since Facebook has the same ad policies in place now, the outcome of the 2020 election could be the same as it was four years ago. "As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear," Mr Bosworth wrote.

That does not mean Facebook should not draw a line when it comes to how it is used, he reasoned. Clearly inciting violence, thwarting voting and other blatant transgressions should be banned, but voters should be trusted to decide what kind of leaders they want to elect, according to Mr Bosworth.

"If we change the outcomes without winning the minds of the people who will be ruled, then we have a democracy in name only. If we limit what information people have access to and what they can say, then we have no democracy at all."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2020, with the headline 'Facebook helped put Trump in office: Exec'. Print Edition | Subscribe