Writing for The New York Times, billionaire and far-left activist George Soros attacked Zuckerberg for allowing President Donald Trump to be elected in 2016 and enabling his coming re-election in 2020.
Recalling a dinner he attended in Davos, Switzerland, Soros remembered being asked if Facebook was behaving more responsibly four years after Trump’s re-election.
“Facebook helped Trump to get elected and I am afraid that it will do the same in 2020,” Soros claimed to have said during the dinner.
Soros cited Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes most large social media platforms from liability for defamation.
“Facebook can post deliberately misleading or false statements by candidates for public office and others, and take no responsibility for them,” wrote Soros.
Soros even accused Facebook of developing “an informal mutual assistance operation or agreement” with President Trump in exchange for protection against attacks from regulators and the media. A Facebook spokesman told Business Insider that this charge is “just plain wrong.”
“I believe that Mr. Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realize that their interests are aligned — the president’s in winning elections, Mr. Zuckerberg’s in making money,” asserted Soros. “Let’s look at the evidence: In 2016, Facebook provided the Trump campaign with embedded staff who helped to optimize its advertising program. (Hillary Clinton’s campaign was also approached, but it declined to embed a Facebook team in her campaign’s operations.) Brad Parscale, the digital director of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and now his campaign manager for 2020, said that Facebook helped Mr. Trump and gave him the edge. This seems to have marked the beginning of a special relationship.”
Soros then cited Zuckerberg’s meeting with the president in the Oval Office in the fall of 2019 and Trump later saying in regards to the meeting, “I’d rather have him just do whatever he is going to do. He’s done a hell of a job, when you think of it.”
Following the 2016 election, Facebook and other social media platforms pledged to combat fake news by employing a team of “fact-checkers” that would flag content they deemed misleading. Here’s the company’s current policy described in its own words:
We’re committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook. We use both technology and human review to remove fake accounts, promote news literacy and disrupt the financial incentives of spammers. In certain countries, we also work with third-party fact-checkers who are certified through the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network to help identify and review false news.
According to Soros, however, Facebook has “flung open the door for false, manipulated, extreme and incendiary statements” while rewarding such content with “prime placement and promotion if it meets Facebook-designed algorithmic standards for popularity and engagement.”
“I repeat and reaffirm my accusation against Facebook under the leadership of Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg,” he concluded. “They follow only one guiding principle: Maximize profits irrespective of the consequences. One way or another, they should not be left in control of Facebook.”
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has simultaneously argued that Facebook has given far too much leeway to political speech, fearing that Mark Zuckerberg has grown hungry with power.
“We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well-intentioned the leaders of these companies may be,” Hughes wrote in 2019. “Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American. It is time to break up Facebook.”