It seems that despite Mark Zuckerberg’s dismissal of Russia’s campaign of spreading fake news and other types of messages over Facebook ahead of the 2016 American elections, the company realized the extent of the problem.
Facebook, which has now handed over information on numerous fake accounts created by a group with ties to the Kremlin, which pushed pro-Trump content over the network, seems to have been in the know about the situation for a while now.
The wake-up call was given by none other but former president Barack Obama, who had a talk with Zuckerberg following one of Zuck’s statements regarding the “crazy” idea that the fake news spread over Facebook had a role in the US election results. According to the Washington Post, Obama and his top aides had issues figuring out how to handle the Russian meddling campaign and it seems that the President’s aides wished they had done more once Trump was elected for Office.
Obama, the Post reports, personally made an appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously, especially given how many users the network has. Obama even warned that if measures wouldn’t be taken by both Facebook and the government, it can only get worse for the next elections.
Zuckerberg admitted that fake news posed a real threat, but also said that it’s not an easy problem to tackle. The conversation reportedly took place back in November, and we’ve since seen numerous steps taken by the company to counter this phenomenon. While Facebook clearly didn’t see the magnitude of the disinformation campaign led then, it sees it now and has been trying to fight off such issues.
It’s also clear at this point that while Facebook tried to deflect some of the responsibility it has, it needs to own up to its mistakes and make sure it fights back so such a thing is not possible anymore. Hopefully, the problem will be fixed not only for American users, but also for those living all across the world. It’s been reported in the past that France, the UK and even Germany have taken steps to fight against Russian campaigns such as the one that took place in the US, while Facebook admitted to shutting down hundreds of fake accounts looking to spread fake information.