Jan 7, 2020 - Technology

Facebook executive argues digital ads got Trump elected

In this image, the Facebook logo is visible on a phone and in the background
The Facebook logos. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Longtime Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth said in an internal Dec. 30 post that he thinks Facebook was responsible for Donald Trump getting elected, "but not for the reasons anyone thinks," the New York Times reports.

What he's saying: "He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica," Bosworth wrote. "He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period."

  • Bosworth said that Trump and his campaign manager Brad Parscale "did unbelievable work" in 2016 and that "they just used the tools we had to show the right creative to each person."

Context: Bosworth is a trusted lieutenant of CEO Mark Zuckerberg who now heads up the firm's AR/VR hardware projects.

His post went on to note that as a liberal who donated to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, he finds himself "desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result" — but he cannot endorse taking that action, despite the temptation.

"I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment. Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to [Galadriel] and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her. As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear."
— Bosworth's Dec. 30 post, as obtained by the NYT

What's new: In a public Facebook post made Tuesday afternoon in response to the NYT's article, Bosworth released his original Dec. 30 statements and said several comment threads from his colleagues had changed his views, though he did not specify how.

  • He called for more discussion around other topics Facebook feels it is falling short of "that should be a focus in 2020."
  • Facebook confirmed to Axios that Bosworth's public post to the site on Tuesday was the company's response to the NYT piece.

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