A Facebook executive in a leaked internal memo admits the platform is likely partially responsible for President Trump's election but warns against trying to "change the outcome" in 2020.
The New York Times on Tuesday published a memo recently posted by Andrew Bosworth, the former head of Facebook's advertising team who is now vice president of virtual and augmented reality, on the company's internal network. In it, he suggests Facebook was "responsible for Donald Trump getting elected," although he argues it's only because Trump in 2016 ran the "single best digital ad campaign I've ever seen from any advertiser," not because of "Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica."
Bosworth, who the Times notes some in the company see as a "proxy" for CEO Mark Zuckerberg, says since Facebook's advertising policies are the same heading into 2020, this may "very well may lead to" Trump's re-election. "As a committed liberal," Bosworth writes, "I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result." But he compares the situation to The Lord of the Rings, when Galadriel imagines using the ring for noble reasons 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 writes.
Facebook ahead of the 2020 election has faced criticism for allowing false political ads on the platform, and dozens of employees reportedly argued against Bosworth's post in its comments, saying the company should treat politicians on the site the same way it does users. More than 250 Facebook employees previously wrote in a critical letter to Zuckerberg that the current ad policies suggest "we are okay profiting from deliberate misinformation campaigns."
In a statement to the Times, Bosworth said his memo "wasn't written for public consumption."