A few hours ago, Mark Zuckerberg defended his board member’s 1.25 million donation to team Trump.
Thiel – an early investor – has not been distanced from the social network brand, with Zuckerberg addressing the issue head on to Facebook staff in an internal memo. This memo was the result of ‘concerns’ regarding the company’s involvement in politics. Perhaps surprisingly to many (certainly to me), the corporate world has largely steered clear of investment in the Republican candidate. Direct public investment at least. So while this donation may actually be nominal by the standards of what these two billionaires deal in day to day, it nonetheless has placed Thiel on the top of the donation list.
Peter Thiel (formerly Klaus, of Germanic origin) is a Harvard grad and co-founder of the global payment system giant that is PayPal who is rumored to have himself registered for cryonically suspension. So the gay republican is hardly a ‘typical’ supporter of Trump. In fact, even within Silicon Valley he is something of a double anomaly. Zuckerberg’s memo – which placed an emphasis on the importance of company diversity and having a balance of view – therefore carries a tone of authenticity… but I would wonder if the concern is much broader amongst the ranks.
Specifically, more to do with Facebook’s overall ability to warp the lens in favour of one party or candidate over another. Or more specifically whether they can be trusted NOT to do so. The hidden algorithmic dark arts of the Facebook timeline may be what has employees more uneasy than any one individuals personal and very public support.
In fact to be really fair, perhaps the CEO and founder should have said nothing at all.
Because commentary saying they ‘had’ to support diversity rather than supporting the decision is actually serving a two fold purpose of indirectly implying his own lack of support of Trump and giving off an appearance of an aim of ‘unbias’ news telling within Facebook in general.So a vague addressal of perhaps a larger greyer internal concern…
Which we all already know is, frankly, complete and utter bullshit.
So, gigantic caveats in mind, what can Facebook tell us about who really is winning this election of the century?
A lot more than Twitter for certain. Frankly the number of people and supposedly intelligent companies and software brands reporting they know the ‘result’ via the social media ‘crystal ball’ that is Twitter is petrifying.
Are people really that stupid?
Twitter is not a statistically balanced representation of anything.
Sure, if you want to know what the white middle-class over opinionated and democratically biased amongst us think, work away. However, if you want to get a ‘state of the nation’, do not even go there.
(Incidentally people – the same applies to marketing campaigns)
Because for all the talk about Clinton ‘winning’ Twitter, guess what?
That’s not the people that are going to be voting for him.
It is the people sleeping in their cars. The people that had a job for ten years and feel now stripped of their pride. The people who use food stamps. The people that are desperate for change, any change. The ones have been left with no hope and for whom Clinton’s cheers about how ‘great America already is’ just make them feel more isolated in that desperation, not optimistic.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a lot more representative. And that’s were things get scary.
According to Facebook targeting the potential ‘reach’ to people that ‘express interest in or like pages relating to Hillary Clinton’ is 3,500,000 American souls.
The potential reach of people that ‘discuss or like the pages relating to Donald Trump’ is a whopping 11,000,000. 2,200,000 of whom openly support him for president on just one official Facebook page (and remember that silent Tory vote?).
Admittedly, it could be said we all have an ‘interest’ in Trump. That does not equate to support. But 20% of those discussing Trump being OPEN supporters of ‘Trump for President’ on Faceboo is a lot. When we look at their personal official Facebook pages the support indicates that he may have as much as 37% more support.
While the world of the internet is vast, the development of key social media and search platforms is progressing further and further towards us all being in our individual information bubbles. Facebook’s new Recommendation System – where you are encourage to make purchase and activity decision based on those already surrounding you, thus a ‘trusted source’ – launched today, is just another step in narrowing that bubble.
Your reality is not anyone elses. And this is no more true than online.
We should have already learned this from the shock result that was Brexit.
So, if you’re so certain that he won’t win just remember, that – reality and perception are often confused – especially when it comes to social media, and maybe even more so when it comes to putting food in your mouth.
Incidentally, you can now endorse your favourite candidate on Facebook.
P.S. I reckon he is the mouthy Shark and her the sticky tricky squid in the above illustration…