Zuckerberg: Idea That Fake News on Facebook Influenced Election Is 'Pretty Crazy'

Many of the fake stories seemingly circulated by algorithms on Facebook were decidedly pro-Trump.

Mark Zuckerberg gestures as he speaks during a session at the Techonomy 2016 conference in Half Moon Bay, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.
David Paul Morris, Bloomberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has rejected allegations that fake news stories on the social network were responsible for the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

"I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea," Zuckerberg said at the Techonomy conference in California on Thursday night.

During the campaign, Facebook was accused of not doing enough to curb the spread of fake news stories. 

Many of the stories in question were supportive of Donald Trump - reporting endorsements from high-profile figures such as the Pope, for example.

Facebook has become an important source of news for many of its users. "As long as it's on social media, people start believing it," Barack Obama said before the election.

Zuckerberg also denied allegations that Facebook uses software algorithms to ensure users are predominantly shown news stories that align with their views, reinforcing their opinions. 

Adam Mosseri, vice-president of product management at Facebook, admitted that the social network could be doing more to prevent the spread of misinformation.

He said Facebook already had systems in place to identify false news stories, but added: "Despite these efforts, we understand there's so much more we need to do."

Facebook was also accused of censoring news about conservative politicians during the election campaign.

An internal investigation found no evidence of deliberate manipulation, and concluded that the majority of news trends were determined by algorithms rather than humans.

Since then, however, fake news has continued to spread on the network.