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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.

Go deeper: Zuckerberg’s power to hurt Trump

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.