“Voters make decisions based on their lived experience,” he said at the Techonomy conference near San Francisco on Thursday.
“There is a profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw fake news,” he said, and anyone who believes that has “failed to internalize” the message supporters of Donald Trump sent during the election.
He also rejected the idea that people’s news feeds are becoming increasingly personalized to the point that opposing views are no longer visible – a phenomenon known as the filter bubble.
“We’ve studied it a lot. I really care about this,” he said, adding that in order to have a good impact on the world he wants people to have a “diversity of information”.
He compared the current media landscape to 20 years ago when people only had access to a few major TV networks and newspapers. “You got all your news filtered through that.”
With Facebook, he said, most users have friends who have different political views to their own. “Even if 90% of your friends are Democrats, probably 10% are Republicans. Even if you live in some state or country you will know some people in another state, another country.”
“That means that the information you are getting through the social system is going to be inherently more diverse than you would have gotten through news stations.”
The problem is that people don’t “click on and engage” with content that doesn’t conform to their world view, according to a human tendency towards confirmation bias.
“It’s not that the diverse information isn’t there … but we haven’t got people to engage with it in higher proportions.”
The less people engage with the content, the less likely the newsfeed is to surface it.
“Our job, our goal is to help people see the content that’s going to be the most meaningful and interesting to them,” he said.
This article was written by Olivia Solon in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Friday 11th November 2016 03.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010