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Facebook ain’t neutral on politics: MSNBC exposes Mark Zuckerberg’s deal with Duterte

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire after a report discovered the crucial role that the social media network played in the election campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte and the spread of fake news.

MSNBC anchor Ari Melber on December 27 said Facebook’s involvement in Duterte’s campaign belies Zuckerberg’s claim after the victory of United States President Donald Trump that the social networking giant is neutral on politics.

“In fact, there was a whole scandal in that country, the Philippines, over fake news and bots in their election which was — wait for it — held in May 2016,” he said.

Melber said Facebook’s involvement dates back to 2015 when it partnered with the Philippine government for the launch of Internet.org, a project that allows people in far-flung areas to be online.

But the company’s involvement did not stop there.

In January 2016, Melber said Facebook flew in three employees who held training sessions with presidential candidates, including Duterte.

“Giving tips to a few campaigns in a constitutional democracy can be different in giving tips to this authoritarian Duterte. Facebook learned that quickly. In fact, after his team got that Facebook briefing, his allies went into overdrive, pushing fake news and accounts along with his other wider campaigns,” he said.

During the campaign period, Melber noted the appearance of fake–but viral– news such as Pope Francis’ alleged endorsement of Duterte.

It was the same news that surfaced during the US presidential elections, when articles appeared about the Pope’s supposed endorsement of Trump.

Melber said Duterte’s relationship with Facebook continued after he won the presidency.

“His (Duterte’s) reliance on Facebook grew stronger– and this is interesting for other countries. He also has less limits, constitutional or otherwise, than we have in the United States so he started doing things like banning journalists from covering his events and inauguration, and streaming them instead on Facebook,” he said.

Watch MSNBC’s report on Facebook and Duterte below: