A group of Facebook “renegades” have formed an unofficial task force to question the role that Facebook played in Trump’s victory, BuzzFeed News reports.
The taskforce includes employees from different divisions across the company, according to BuzzFeed News sources.
Almost half of people in the US rely on Facebook as a news source, according to a study from the Pew Research Center, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said Facebook to should be seen as a technology “platform” as opposed to a media organisation that is responsible for checking the veracity of the content it surfaces.
On Saturday, Zuckerberg said it was “pretty crazy idea” to suggest that Facebook swayed the presidential election, but he acknowledged the social network had work to do when it comes to tackling hoaxes on the platform.
One Facebook employee who reportedly works in its engineering division told BuzzFeed News: “It’s not a crazy idea. What’s crazy is for him to come out and dismiss it like that, when he knows, and those of us at the company know, that fake news ran wild on our platform during the entire campaign season.”
BuzzFeed News spoke to a total of five Facebook employees for its story on the condition that the publication kept their anonymity. The sources have reportedly been warned by management about talking to press.
Specific details on how the taskforce will actually operate were not provided by the employees, but one said that there are dozens of people involved.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is a very rare situation as Facebook employees tend to be loyal to Zuckerberg. A group of Facebook employees coming out against his views is almost unheard of.
Last week, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement: “While Facebook played a part in this election, it was just one of many ways people received their information — and was one of the many ways people connected with their leaders, engaged in the political process and shared their views.”
A report from Gizmodo, published Monday, suggested Facebook actively chose to take steps not to suppress fake news earlier this year because it would have “disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds.” Facebook said this allegation “is not true.”
Separately on Monday, Facebook updated its advertising policies to make it clearer that a ban on its ads appearing next to deceptive and misleading content applies to fake news sites. However, this update was limited to its advertising policies and does not affect the fake news stories shared by users on Facebook. Google also announced it was working on a policy change to prevent fake news sites making revenue using its AdSense ad network.
With additional reporting from Lara O’Reilly.