The secret nefarious plot behind Facebook's big outreach effort to conservatives

Mark Zuckerberg.
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In May 2016, Gizmodo published an article that alleged "Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network's influential 'trending' news section." Two months out from the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump was the clear favorite for the nomination, and the article "went off like a bomb in Menlo Park," Wired reports in a massive article published Monday on the internal decisions at Facebook over the course of the election.

But Facebook's biggest concern was an unhappy Sen. John Thune (R-S.C.), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the Federal Trade Commission. In addition to sending Thune a 12-page investigation that found Gizmodo's story was factually inaccurate, "Facebook decided, too, that it had to extend an olive branch to the entire American right wing," Wired writes. The resulting conference found Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg meeting with more than a dozen leading conservatives in May to "build trust."

From the get-go, though, "the company wanted to make a show of apologizing for its sins," Wired writes, and the meeting was allegedly engineered to be a mostly fruitless exercise:

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According to a Facebook employee involved in planning the meeting, part of the goal was to bring in a group of conservatives who were certain to fight with one another. They made sure to have libertarians who wouldn't want to regulate the platform and partisans who would. Another goal, according to the employee, was to make sure the attendees were "bored to death" by a technical presentation after Zuckerberg and Sandberg had addressed the group.The power went out, and the room got uncomfortably hot. But otherwise the meeting went according to plan. The guests did indeed fight, and they failed to unify in a way that was either threatening or coherent. [Wired]

Read the full report about Facebook at Wired.

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