Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg raised some eyebrows at the company’s annual F8 developer conference last week, appearing to take a veiled shot at Presidential candidate Donald Trump in his keynote speech.
“I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others,’” he said. “I hear them calling for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, for reducing trade, and in some cases, even for cutting access to the Internet.”
Then, Gizmodo obtained an alleged screenshot of a Facebook employee poll gauging what questions should be asked of Zuckerberg at an internal company Q&A. The fifth-most voted for question was “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”
All of that led to speculation: could (or would) Facebook actively work to prevent Donald Trump from becoming President? The site would be well within its First Amendment rights to do so; publications are allowed to cover or not cover anything they want. But Facebook responded forcefully to the speculation, denying that it would ever do anything to influence an election.
“We encourage any and all candidates, groups, and voters to use our platform to share their views on the election and debate the issues,” the site said in a statement. “We as a company are neutral — we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.”
While it’s good thing for democracy that Facebook doesn’t want use its power to sway elections, it’s also pretty scary that it could if it wanted to.