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On the heels of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s comments about Donald Trump’s immigration position comes news of an interesting question asked on an internal Facebook employee poll. Every week, Facebook employees use a company poll to submit questions to ask Zuckerberg in the next Q&A session. In a poll last month, Gizmodo reported that the fifth most popular question was, “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”
It’s more than just an interesting question.
Although most people view Facebook as a way to express themselves and receive the kind of news and posts they prefer, in actuality Facebook is a private company and, as such, enjoys the same first amendment rights as any other company or news outlet. In short, if Facebook chose to phase out pro-Trump posts from the news feeds of millions of Americans, or even ban Trump entirely, they are well within their rights to do so.
Facebook has toyed with the role of social influencer before in small ways, such as this 61-million-person experiment to see how real voting behavior could be influenced.
Essentially, as long as Facebook doesn’t collude with any one candidate they are well within the law to promote or decline to promote any candidate they wish, based on any reason they choose.
In response to inquiries about the employee question, Facebook made a statement to The Hill, “Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that supporting civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community. We encourage any and all candidates, groups, and voters to use our platform to share their views on the election and debate the issues. 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.”
Trump also responded to the internal poll when he told “Fox & Friends” on Saturday that he “likes Facebook” and “can’t imagine them doing anything.”
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