Sitting on the neon-lit stage, Dave McClure couldn’t contain himself. The 500 Startups founder and investor used his appearance at the Web Summit conference on Wednesday to loudly criticize his own industry for President-elect Donald Trump’s victory:
Technology has a role in that we provide communication platforms for the rest of the fucking country. It’s a propaganda medium and if people aren’t aware of the shit they’re being told; if they’re being told a story of fear; if they’re being told a story of other; if they’re not understanding that people are trying to use them to get to fucking office then, yes, assholes like Trump are going to take office and it’s our duty and our responsibility as entrepreneurs, as citizens of the fucking world, to make sure that shit does not happen.
He’s not the first to place the blame (or credit, depending on one’s view) for Trump’s unexpected win on digital platforms like Facebook, which allowed fake-news sites to proliferate and spread pro-Trump hoaxes such as, “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President.”
Facebook, where nearly half of Americans get their news, has borne the brunt of the ire, both for creating echo-chambers of partisan news and for failing to promote high-quality information over false drivel. But online extremism researchers say America’s misinformation problem is bigger than Facebook. They are also pointing fingers at sites like 4chan, Twitter and Reddit, online free-for-alls that lack Facebook’s relatively strict stance on hate-speech and have allowed racist communities to flourish in recent years. These forums have grown angrier and more multitudinous since Trump announced his candidacy, and while it’s not yet clear how much they contributed to the triumph of Trump, they certainly lined up behind him.