In the tense days after Donald Trump's November election, then-President Barack Obama personally warned Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the spread of fake news on the social media site, according to a new Washington Post report

By Tierney McAfee
September 25, 2017 03:55 PM
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Credit: Steve Jennings/Getty; Mark Wilson/Getty

In the tense days after Donald Trump‘s November election, then-President Barack Obama personally warned Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the spread of fake news on the social media site, according to a new Washington Post report.

The warning, which Obama issued during a Nov. 19 meeting of world leaders in Lima, Peru, came after Zuckerberg dismissed as “crazy” the idea that fake news spread by Russian operatives on Facebook played a central role in the 2016 presidential election.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that fake news was a problem but told Obama that it was not widespread on Facebook and that there was no easy solution to combat it, The Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing sources who had been briefed on the exchange and who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy and communications for Facebook, told the Post that the company has “come forward at every opportunity” to report links to fake news items. A spokesperson for Obama declined to comment, the newspaper said.

According to the Post, Facebook first notified the FBI about suspicions of a Russian intelligence operation in June 2016, but the government and the private sector struggled over how to fix the issue.

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In a 6,000-word blog post in February, Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook needed to do more to control its “bad” side.

“It is our responsibility,” he wrote, “to amplify the good effects [of the Facebook platform] and mitigate the bad — to continue increasing diversity while strengthening our common understanding so our community can create the greatest positive impact on the world.”

Facebook announced last week that it would turn over to Congress the more than 3,000 political ads that were purchased through Russian accounts during the 2016 campaign, the Post said.