Reporters Reveal 'Ugly Truth' Of How Facebook Enables Hate Groups And Disinformation
In a new book, two New York Times journalists report that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg often doesn't see the downside of the social media platform he created. In their new book, An Ugly Truth, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang write that Zuckerberg tends to believe that free speech will drown out bad speech.
"[Zuckerberg's] view was that even if there were lies [on Facebook] — lies from a politician such as Donald Trump — that the public would respond with their own fact checks of the president and that the fact checks would rise to the top," Frenkel says.
Frenkel, who is based on San Francisco, covers cybersecurity for The Times; Kang is based in Washington, D.C., and covers technology and regulatory policy. Their book focuses on the period between the 2016 presidential campaign and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — a time in which Trump became one of Facebook's most profitable users.
"Trump had over 30 million followers," Frenkel tells Fresh Air. "He not only managed to bring audience and relevancy to Facebook, he created this constant sort of churning stream of information that people couldn't help take their eyes off of."
Following the 2020 presidential election, the Facebook platform became key in the "Stop the Steal" effort to challenge the election results, with users posting photos of assault rifles and openly discussing how they were going to bring guns to Washington on Jan. 6.