It’s November 6, 2016. The world is not in good shape. After years of historic lows, oil prices have rebounded—in fact, they have rebounded too well. Gas is now fast approaching $4 per gallon. High energy costs have kicked the Chinese economy into a depression, and the United States begins hemorrhaging workers. With fear spreading, the South China Sea is getting testier. What’s more, it’s been a terrible tropical-cyclone season, and southern cities are ailing. Miami and its suburbs, specifically, might take a decade to recover from Hurricane Paula. Amid this unease, some moderate, middle-aged white voters have started taking renewed interest in Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for president. To them, his once-ludicrous rhetoric is sounding more and more accurate. Their support still wouldn’t give him the popular vote, but it might let him take Ohio, Florida, and the electoral college. With the election two days away, younger and urban Americans are terrified. Some are arranging ways for their Muslim friends to leave the country. That’s the atmosphere in which two senior Facebook engineers approach Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s CEO, and tell him that this whole mess can be stopped right now. Could this happen? Would Facebook be able to single-handedly stop Donald Trump—or any other presidential candidate? It’s a question that some at Facebook appear to be asking.
At the end of every week, Zuckerberg holds an internal question-and-answer session for employees. Usually before these sessions, the company circulates a poll internally asking what concerns he should address. On March 4, as one of these polls circulated among workers, many employees voted to ask him: “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?” This survey’s existence was first reported by Gizmodo. Facebook hasn’t yet commented on whether Mark addressed this question or what he said.
“Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that supporting civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community,” said a Facebook spokesman in response to the report. “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.”
The world’s largest social network says it won’t avert a Trump presidency—but could it? In its story on the survey question, Gizmodo hypothesizes one way that the company could step in. By gradually wiping pro-Trump stories from its feed, Facebook could suffocate a campaign that has run on free media attention. “Facebook wouldn’t have to disclose it was doing this, and would be protected by the First Amendment,” writes Michael Nunez, a Gizmodo editor.
Full Article: How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election – The Atlantic.