Facebook reportedly touted Trump campaign as an ‘innovator’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg 

James Martin

After the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook internally praised Donald Trump’s campaign for its approach to using the social network, according to a report Thursday by BuzzFeed News.

In company presentations and memos, Facebook called the campaign an “innovator,” the report says. Facebook listed the campaign as an organization the company might want to invite to Facebook’s offices to “brainstorm how it could refine its own ad strategies,” the report said. 

Ultimately, Facebook didn’t invite anyone from the Trump or Hillary Clinton campaign.

The BuzzFeed report also says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called then-president-elect Donald Trump days after the election to congratulate him on his victory.

Facebook declined to comment.

The revelation comes amid continuing criticism of Facebook’s role in the 2016 US election. Russian trolls abused the platform and meddled in the election by posting ads and content meant to spread misinformation and sow discord among voters. 

Facebook’s focus on the effectiveness of the Trump campaign, however, points to something other than abuse: “Trump used Facebook as Facebook was meant to be used,” a former Facebook employee told BuzzFeed.

The internal praise for the Trump campaign’s strategies clashes with Facebook’s public criticism of the administration’s policies. Zuckerberg was one of the first prominent tech leaders to speak out against a Trump executive order that blocked refugees from nations such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria. He and COO Sheryl Sandberg also criticized Trump’s action against “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

In the wake of the election, Facebook has overhauled many of its advertising policies, particularly when it comes to political ads. Some changes include a tighter verification process and labels indicating who paid for certain ads.

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