Book Reveals How Facebook Fuels Hate Groups, Disinformation

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In their new book An Ugly Truth, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang write that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tends to believe that free speech will drown out bad speech.

He believes that fake news on Facebook from politicians like Donald Trump would not spread because the general public would shut down any false claims made.

Frenkel, who is from San Francisco, covers cybersecurity for The Times, while Kang is from Washington, D.C., covering technology and regulatory policy.

Their book focuses on the span between the 2016 presidential campaign and the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol – a time when Trump became one of Facebook’s most notorious users.

During the 2020 presidential election, the Facebook platform became a central element in the “Stop the Steal” effort to challenge the election results, with users posting photos of assault rifles and openly discussing how they would bring guns into the capital on January 6.

After the bloody uprising, Facebook suspended Trump’s account for two years, saying it would only reinstate it when “the risk to public safety has receded.”

Kang says the fact that Trump is no longer in office has helped Facebook avoid a full discussion of the ban.

But political disinformation remains a problem for the social media platform, which has nearly 3 billion users worldwide.

The book also talks candidly about key highlights surrounding Facebook and its role as a purveyor of disinformation and hate.

Notable highlights include Facebook’s decision to ban Trump after the bloody siege of the U.S. Capitol, the policy of social media companies that actually support disinformation, Facebook’s policy of political advertising, the difficulty of moderating hate speech, and the opinion of Facebook’s creators that people will be able to distinguish lies from truth in reporting.

For more information, read the original story in NPR.

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