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Don’t blame Facebook for Trump, Bloomberg’s Brad Stone says

Stone sympathizes with Facebook’s current political dilemma.

Trump Holds Summit With Technology Industry Leaders Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Recode’s own Kara Swisher has written on this site that President Trump has cowed some of Silicon Valley’s most idealistic dreamers into compliance. In a conversation with Swisher on the latest Recode Decode, Bloomberg Tech journalist and “The Upstarts” author Brad Stone offered a rebuttal.

“Maybe I’m more cynical than you,” Stone said. “I think the idealism has always been marketing. Even back in the early days of Apple and the ‘pirate’ mentality, they were building a computer that they wanted to differentiate from IBM and Microsoft. I don’t remember Steve Jobs saying anything about the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq.”

Swisher and Stone also discussed the rise of “fake news” on social media and Facebook’s initial refusal to confront it. But Stone said he could sympathize with the position Facebook’s executives find themselves in, because they must equally serve the customers they agree with and disagree with.

“Donald Trump won, or he got the majority of the electoral votes, a large majority,” Stone said. “I think it would be patronizing to say that the majorities of people in Florida and Ohio, smaller majorities in Wisconsin and Michigan, that they voted for him because they were misled by something on Facebook.”

“They have their beliefs, and I think it’s up to everyone who doesn’t agree with those beliefs, to the Democratic party, to go and enlist those people, to make your argument to them, and not to go and blame technology companies,” he added. “I think Facebook has a lot of work to do to make sure people are seeing meaningful things and not garbage. But I don’t think you can lay the current situation at the feet of the companies.”

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