It’s not a crazy assertion that Facebook would have impacted the US election results in one way or another, right? After all, it would be strange to assert that mainstream media has absolutely no impact on the US election results. And just think about how much time we spend with Facebook.

Surprisingly, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want to admit that Facebook impacted US election results.

On Saturday, Zuckerberg wrote that it was “extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.” His post did acknowledge that the social platform should do more to fight the spread of false news stories, but also implied that content of the sort was insignificant.

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic,” he wrote. “Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics.”

Zuckerberg went on to say that Facebook didn’t really impact the US election’s outcome, writing “overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”

The Facebook CEO says that determining what is “truth” and what isn’t may be a harder task than critics would like to admit:

Identifying the “truth” is complicated. While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted. An even greater volume of stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual. I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.

These comments are the most extensive remarks Zuckerberg has made publicly since the election, and they come as the social platform’s executive team came under fire for not doing more to combat conspiracy theories and other invented news stories. Basically, Facebook can be a force for spreading positive content…but there are clear negatives as well.

Recent findings from the Pew Research Center seem to imply that Facebook did indeed impact the US elections: 20% of social media users indicated that they changed their stance on a particular political issue as a direct result of something they saw on social media, usually towards a more pessimistic stance.

“People who said they had changed their minds on [the presidential] candidates often said that social media pointed their opinion in a more negative direction,” said Monica Anderson, a Pew research associate, via a post right before the election.

“Respondents who indicated they had changed their minds about Clinton were more than three times as likely to say that their opinion changed in a negative direction rather than a positive one (24% vs. 7%),” said Anderson. “Respondents who mentioned Trump were nearly five times as likely to say that their opinion became more negative as opposed to more positive (19% vs. 4%).”

Interesting, 25% of individuals who identified as liberal Democrats said their minds had been changed about a political or social issue due to social media. They were the most likely to be swayed out of all studied. In contrast, just 13% of conservative Republicans said the same. Considering views were generally moved in a more pessimistic direction, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that falsehoods about the Democratic candidate spreading on Facebook likely impacted the US elections.



Considering all of the evidence, is saying that Facebook had an impact on the US elections “a pretty crazy idea,” as Zuckerberg claimed on Thursday?