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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Mark Zuckerburg: Facebook algorithm isn’t trying to fuel online rage

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Facebook has been accused of promoting a conservative bias, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is apolitical.

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Angela Lang

This story is part of Elections 2020, ‘s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it’s wrong to suggest the social media platform is designed to enrage people. In an interview with Axios on HBO, Zuckerberg admitted that partisan content on Facebook often gets high engagement  — such as likes or comments — but said that doesn’t account for everything people are “seeing and reading and learning” about on Facebook.  

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“I think sometimes there is a fine line between an important level of high energy around an important issue and something that can kind of tilt over into causing harm,” he said during the interview published Tuesday. He added that Facebook “give individuals more power” and let’s people find and follow voices that resonate more with their life experiences. 

His comments come on the heels of a wave of backlash directed at the company, including from Facebook’s own employees. In May, workers at Facebook staged a “virtual walkout” to protest the company’s decision to leave up a post by US President Donald Trump that, they say, could incite violence. In July, more than 1,000 companies, including big brands such as The North Face and Ben & Jerry’s, vowed to stop purchasing advertising from Facebook until the company does more to combat hate speech on its platform.

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