Mark Zuckerberg Defends Facebook Against Trump Attack


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Donald Trump took to Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg responded on Facebook.

On Wednesday, the Facebook CEO responded to the president's comments that his company "was always anti-Trump" with a bulleted statement that attempted to downplay the notion that the social network influenced the 2016 election for either party.

"The facts suggest the greatest role Facebook played in the 2016 election was different from what most are saying," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.

It's been a contentious month for Facebook after the company acknowledged efforts by foreign entities to manipulate the race on its platform by buying targeted ads. Last week, the company said it would have copies of more than 3,000 ads with ties to Russian actors to give to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, with Zuckerberg announcing a new policy with for advertising so-called dark posts. On Wednesday, the company, along with Google and Twitter, were invited to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Nov. 1.

A source close to Facebook confirmed that the company had received the invite, but that it had not decided who to send in front of the committee.

"Trump says Facebook is against him," wrote Zuckerberg. "Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don't like. That's what running a platform for all ideas looks like.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump wrote in the first of a two-part tweet that Facebook had been opposed to his candidacy: "Facebook was always anti-Trump," he said. "The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?"

@realDonaldTrump / Twitter / Via Twitter: @realDonaldTrump

In his post, Zuckerberg attempted to outline the positives that his company brought to the election. He noted that "more people had a voice in this election than ever before" because of Facebook and notes that all the candidates had Facebook pages through which they interacted with tens of millions of followers. The post, however, made no mention of the fake news and information that the platform helped to proliferate.

"After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea," Zuckerberg wrote. "Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive."

The Facebook CEO also hinted that he may be in favor of campaign spending reforms for online advertising. "Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That's 1000x more than any problematic ads we've found," he said.

Since the election, Zuckerberg has stayed out of Trump's orbit. In December, during a meeting of technology leaders at Manhattan's Trump Tower, Facebook opted to send Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to sit down with the then-president-elect. He also did not attend a similar meeting for technology leaders in June at the White House, with the company reportedly citing "scheduling conflicts" at the time.

Zuckerberg has also largely avoided saying Trump's name in public settings. He discussed "fearful voices calling for building walls" at a keynote for the company's F8 conference in April 2016 and made a veiled criticism at the presidential administration's approach to immigration at Harvard University's May commencement, but did not mention the president's name at either event. Similarly in a Facebook post criticizing the president's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, he did not name Trump.

It remains to be seen if Zuckerberg or another representative for Facebook will testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee in November.

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Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook / Via Facebook: zuck

Facebook, Google, And Twitter Have Been Asked To Testify Publicly In The Senate’s Russia Investigation

Stephen Lam / Reuters
Facebook, Twitter, and Google officials have been called to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Nov. 1 about Russian attempts to use social media to sway last year’s presidential election after Facebook revealed that a Russian troll operation had purchased more than 3,000 political ads on the platform.
The news, first reported by Recode, was confirmed to BuzzFeed News by a source familiar with the matter.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is leading congressional investigations into Russian election interference, has increased its scrutiny of Facebook, in particular, following its disclosure earlier this month that fake accounts and pages on the site linked to a Russian troll farm spent approximately $100,000 on political ads during the presidential race.
A person familiar with the situation said that Facebook is considering the invitation, but has not decided which executives to send to the hearing. Twitter and Google also confirm.. Continue reading

Emails Show How An Ivy League Prof Tried To Do Damage Control For His Bogus Food Science

Small Stuff for BuzzFeed News; Getty Images (4); Alamy (2)
The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, a $22 million federally funded program that pushes healthy-eating strategies in almost 30,000 schools, is partly based on studies that contained flawed — or even missing — data.
The main scientist behind the work, Cornell University professor Brian Wansink, has made headlines for his research into the psychology of eating. His experiments have found, for example, that women who put cereal on their kitchen counters weigh more than those who don’t, and that people will pour more wine if they’re holding the glass than if it's sitting on a table. Over the past two decades he’s written two popular books and more than 100 research papers, and enjoyed widespread media coverage (including on BuzzFeed).
Yet over the past year, Wansink and his “Food and Brand Lab” have come under fire from scientists and statisticians who’ve spotted all sorts of red flags — including data inconsistencies, mathematic.. Continue reading

Amazon Just Launched A Bunch Of New Echo Devices

BuzzFeed News
Today at a surprise event in Seattle, Amazon unveiled five new Echo devices, including two new editions of its now-hallmark product, the voice-enabled Echo speaker.
The baseline Echo will cost $100, which is significantly cheaper than the $180 version currently in stores. The company will also be offering a $150 Echo Plus, which is preprogrammed to be compatible with 100 different devices including smart lights and locks.
With its past devices including its Kindle e-reader, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said that his company's goal is not to make money when the devices are sold, but rather when they're being used. In lowering the price of the Echo, Amazon seems to be taking a similar approach with the device, which features its voice-controlled assistant Alexa.
“My kids and their kids will never know a day they couldn’t talk to [Alexa],” said Amazon Senior Vice President Dave Limp at today's launch event. Limp also revealed that there were more than 5,000 peop.. Continue reading

Here Are All The Big Announcements From Amazon’s Surprise Event

We’re live from Amazon’s big press conference and event in Seattle.
View Entire List › Continue reading

Donald Trump Doesn’t Have Access To Twitter’s New 280-Character Limit

But it turns out Trump wasn't included in the 280-character test group, meaning that for now he's going to have to keep tweeting just like the rest of the haters and losers. Sad!
Trump in Cleveland in July 2016.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
The new 280-character limit isn't for everyone. In a blog post, Twitter wrote that “we want to try it out with a small group of people before we make a decision to launch to everyone.”

But Biz Stone, a cofounder of Twitter, tweeted Tuesday evening that Trump is not in the 280-character test group. A Twitter spokesperson later confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Trump was not included, explaining that the test group was selected at random.
Case in point: Trump has used Twitter this week to sustain his growing feud with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem before games. Since entering politics and winning the president, Trump has similarly used Twitter to lash out at a dizzying array enemies in both politics and popula.. Continue reading

Japan Has Had Longer Tweets Since Day One. It’s Fine!

Twitter / Via Twitter: @jneeley78
US Twitter is freaking out about a planned change to the service that will allow for 280-character tweets, like this one from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: Are you worried about living in a world where every tweet is that long? Then let me offer you some words of advice, sent from the future — or at least from a place where tweets have always been this long: Japan.
Thanks to the way the Japanese language works, you can sometimes say an entire word with a single character. Think of it like how you can say “pizza” with one emoji. Even if it's not always one word per character, you can definitely say a whole lot more in 140 than you can in English.
Take, for example, this tweet by Misato Nagoya, a lifestyle writer for BuzzFeed Japan:
It's exactly 140 characters, because we've mastered the art of writing things exactly 140 characters long in Japanese too. But here's how you'd translate it to English:
I don't want to go on a trip .. Continue reading

Twitter Tests Doubling Its Character Limit To 280

A 140-character tweet (left) and one with 280 characters (right).
Twitter
Twitter’s 140-character limit could soon be toast.
The company is considering nixing its long-defining constraint in favor a new limit: 280 characters.
The change, which Twitter is currently testing globally with a small group, would apply to tweets in every language except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean — which already allow you to say more with fewer characters.
“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we're doing something new: we're going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming,” Twitter said in a blog post.
The test is sure to provoke a strong reaction among Twitter’s hardcore users, who have a long history of reacting strongly to changes in the service’s fundamentals, such as Twitter’s decision to transform the timeline from reverse chronological order to one that’s algorithmically sorted.
“We understand since many of .. Continue reading

Facebook Can’t Say For Sure Whether Russians Bought Election Ads In France And Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Frank Rumpenhorst / AFP / Getty Images
Facebook cannot say for certain whether profiles or pages connected to Russia purchased ads during the French and German election campaigns, a company official told BuzzFeed News.
The official said Facebook has yet to dedicate substantial investigative resources to potential ad buys in those election campaigns because it has been focused on the effort in the United States.
“We've been focused on the look back here in the US given the ongoing investigations by both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, but also because of what the special counsel is looking at as well,” said the official, who spoke on condition that they not be named.

This highlights how much remains unknown about possible Russian efforts to target voters with election ads in the US and elsewhere. Facebook has acknowledged that the more than 3,000 ads run in the US may not c.. Continue reading

Amos Yee, A Troll From Singapore, Has Been Granted Asylum In The US

Teen blogger Amos Yee speaks to reporters next to lawyer Nadarajan Kanagavijayan, after leaving a Singapore court in Sept. 2016.
Staff / Reuters
Amos Yee, a controversial blogger from Singapore who has been held in US detention for 10 months, will be freed on Tuesday after a federal appeals court upheld an immigration judge's decision to grant him asylum.
According to Yee's lawyer Sandra Grossman, the court upheld a judge's earlier ruling on the grounds that he would be persecuted if he returned to his native country, whose laws allow the government to restrict freedom of speech and expression. Yee had previously been jailed twice in Singapore on charges that included spreading obscenity and “wounding racial or religious feelings” before December when he flew to Chicago, where he was detained at O'Hare Airport.
He had been in US custody ever since, despite a March ruling from Chicago immigration judge Samuel Cole, who noted that Yee had “suffered past persecution .. Continue reading