Don’t Tilt Scales Against Trump, Facebook Executive Warns

Written by Ann Brown
Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth, head of the virtual and augmented reality division, said the company should avoid harming Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Facebook engineer Andrew Bosworth talks about the new Facebook messaging service at an announcement in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Facebook execs are cuddling up with what some would say are strange bedfellows these days. Ever since Facebook was called to the carpet over a number of issues — from fake accounts pushing a right-wing political agenda and being entangled in the Russian election interference scandal to user data protection — the social media giant has turned to conservatives for “protection.” 

Now comes news that in an internal memo, Andrew Bosworth, head of  Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, said the company should avoid harming Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. This, even though he “desperately” wanted the president to lose. 

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In the memo, which was obtained by The New York Times, Bosworth warned employees in a memo not “to use the tools available to us to change the outcome” of the 2020 election

“On Dec. 30, Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network’s powerful platform against Trump. But citing the ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise and the philosopher John Rawls, Bosworth said that doing so would eventually backfire,” The New York Times reported.

“I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result,” he wrote. “So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment.

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he said, misspelling the name of the character Galadriel. “As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

The 2,500-word post, titled “Thoughts for 2020,” Bosworth spoke of issues including political polarization, Russian interference and the news media’s treatment of Facebook. 

Bosworth also said he thought Facebook was responsible for Trump’s 2016 election victory, but not due to the Russian interference or the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook users’ data was given to a political strategy firm that worked with the Trump campaign. According to Bosworth, Trump won because he used Facebook’s advertising tools effectively.

“He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica,” Bosworth wrote. “He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period.”