Published: Thu, January 09, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Andrew Bosworth Urges Facebook Co-Workers to Avoid Temptations of Influencing Election

Andrew Bosworth Urges Facebook Co-Workers to Avoid Temptations of Influencing Election

'So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?

Since the 2016 election, when Russian trolls and a tsunami of misinformation turned social media into a partisan battlefield, Facebook has wrestled with the role it played in President Donald Trump's victory.

'I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment, ' he said.

Although Bosworth implores Facebook employees not to meddle in the next election, his musings are likely to unsettle conservatives - many of whom already distrust the tech titan and what they consider its liberal bias. 'He said, 'I'd like to congratulate you: "you're number one on Facebook"'. He pointed to the Trump campaign having run "the single best digital ad campaign I've ever seen from any advertiser".

After The Times reported on his memo this week, Bosworth insisted in a public post that his day-to-day work at Facebook "doesn't cover the issues discussed".

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The Facebook boss then talked about his own politics, explaining he was "no fan" of the current president and had maxed out his donations to Trump's 2016 rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But this week, the Facebook executive in charge of the company's advertising arm during the 2016 election offered a different perspective.

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"He didn't get elected because of Russian Federation or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica", Bosworth wrote.

What's next? Bosworth admits Facebook was late to the conversation on data security, misinformation and foreign interference, but needs to lead the conversation on polarisation and algorithmic transparency. Bosworth wrote. "I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons someone thinks".

After the memo's publication, a Facebook executive said the company wished it could "go back and hit delete" on Bosworth's 2016 post.

Context: Bosworth is a trusted lieutenant of CEO Mark Zuckerberg who now heads up the firm's AR/VR hardware projects.

The memo, reprinted in full by The New York Times, reveals Bosworth's belief that media coverage of the company is often incorrect, that Facebook helped elect Trump - and may well again - and that the Cambridge Analytica scandal was a "total non-event". "It happens to me that it very effectively might result in the identical outcome", he stated of this fall's election.

In contrast, Twitter Inc banned political ads in October, while Alphabet Inc's Google said it would stop letting advertisers target election ads using data such as public voter records and general political affiliations. 'They weren't running misinformation or hoaxes. He said only that "we talked about a number of things that were on his mind, and some of the topics that you read about in the news around our work". "They just used the tools we had to give to show the right ad to each person", he shared. "The use of custom audiences, video, ecommerce, and fresh creative remains the high water mark of digital ad campaigns in my opinion".

"When Trump won, Cambridge Analytica tried to take credit", he wrote, "I was glad when the Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale called them out for it".

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