Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s relationship with President Trump has been under watch since 2016 when information came forth of Facebook’s role in getting Trump elected.
Then on July 19th, facts emerged confirming secrets calls between Zuckerberg and Trump, starting the day he became president.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Zuckerberg Reportedly Called Trump to Congratulate Him After The 2016 Presidential Election
Twitter is ablaze right now with news that Mark Zuckerberg called Donald Trump after the 2016 US presidential election to congratulate him on his victory, but also to congratulate him for “a successful [advertising] campaign on Facebook,” Buzzfeed reported.
Business Insider reported that the two have been on multiple calls since.
You might be aware that Zuckerberg has publically criticized Trump over issues such as immigration, but it’s no secret that the Trump campaign was a major customer for Facebook’s advertising business, spending $44 million in the run-up to the 2016 election.
In his remarks before Congress on April 11th, Zuckerberg admitted there was a breach of privacy during the last presidential race. “Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, improperly stored the private information of tens of millions of users,” TIME reported.
“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent interference in elections. It was my mistake and I’m sorry,” said Zuckerberg.
But previously, Facebook declined to comment on the story. “It’s speculation and we have nothing else to add.”
2. July 2018: President Trump is The Biggest Spender of Political ads on Facebook
The New York Times published a study this month claiming that President Trump’s political action committee spent $274,000 on ads in May, beating Facebook’s usual biggest spender, Planned Parenthood.
The ads bought by Trump have been viewed nearly 40 million times.
The study was conducted by researchers out of New York University, who archived political ads in May using a “publicly searchable database that catalogs the ads and identifies which groups or individuals paid for them.”
Then, the researchers conducted their own study by compiling raw date of who is placing political ads on Facebook. The study tracks who is spending the most in political ads leading up to the midterm elections.
Bloomberg released a similar report, showing that Facebook internally circulated a white paper just after the election that showed “Clinton spent $28 million from June to November 2016, while testing 66,000 different ads. In comparison, Trump spent $44 million in that period and tested 5.9 million versions of ads.”
Conservative politicians have been vocal on feeling that Facebook has an anti-conservative bias, which could be why Trump operatives are spending so much on ads.
3. Zuckerberg Addresses Trump by Saying “The Russians Did Interfere With The Election”
“The evidence we’ve seen is quite clear. The Russians did try to interfere with the election,” Zuckerberg told Recode’s Swisher.
“These are real things. These aren’t things that someone made up.”
Zuckerberg went on to stress that there is “no reason not to believe U.S. intelligence officials.”
Zuckerberg’s comments were made on July 17th, the day after the press conference between President Trump and Putin aired, in which Trump defended Russia saying “he didn’t see any reason why the Russian government would be behind the attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016,” reported CNBC.
When asked by the press on July 18th if there was any chance the Russians were still trying to influence U.S. elections, Trump said, “no.”
Zuckerberg’s comments hold weight, partly because last fall a senior Facebook executive admitted before a congressional hearing that “Russian actors had exploited advertising and networking social media tools to sow division and discord in the American political conversation both before and after the 2016 election,” TIME reported.
4. Silicon Valley Seems to Think That Zuckerberg Will be Our Next President
Those who know Zuckerberg well, say his goal is “to be emperor.”
According to Fortune, Facebook paved the way for Zuckerberg to one day take a “voluntary” leave from his post as CEO to serve “in a government position or office.”
Then, in a proxy statement put out by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was published that Facebook is “creating a new class of non-voting shares allowing Zuckerberg to donate his stock without losing control over the company.”
Facebook’s board came to an agreement on how Zuckerberg’s shares would be distributed “in the event he takes government office,” reported Fortune.
In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Jim Vandehei, co-founder and former CEO of Politico, argued for a third-party candidate, pointing specifically to Zuckerberg.
“Why not recruit Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to head a third-party movement?”
The 2020 presidential race will be the first opportunity Zuckerberg has, as he’s been under the legal age to run so far.
5. Facebook: “Trump Used Facebook as it Was Meant to be Used”
It’s clear to most that the Trump campaign had a close working relationship with Facebook throughout the 2016 presidential race. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Facebook said it “provided advice on best practices including insights on which ad formats were generating the best performance results and how to use their insights to determine best strategies.”
Test, Learn, Adapt (TLA) has been used by Facebook with other customers, but Facebook claimed Trump’s victory in the presidential race as “key example of the method’s efficacy.”
TLA described by Facebook, is “a common method of running experiments by changing one variable — TLA involved developing many ad combinations using different messaging, creative, format and delivery options.”
Essentially, a client tests combinations “against the smallest possible audience” on Facebook, and “the one generating the most engagement” is scaled to a full audience.
“These learnings were taken directly from the Trump campaign,” said a Facebook employee.
“Trump used Facebook as Facebook was meant to be used.”