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Post Election: Has Facebook Grown Too Influential?

Hillary Clinton was the choice of nearly every American newspaper editorial board. It didn’t matter.

When it comes to influencing public opinion, the 2016 presidential election demonstrated with sobering effect the weakening role of traditional media and the ascendant power of social networks like Facebook.

Forty-four percent of Americans get their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center, filling a void left by the declining ranks of newspapers. By comparison, only 2 in 10 U.S. adults get news from print newspapers today.

The consequences of Facebook’s growing sway became clear during an election cycle that saw the rise of partisan news, conspiracies, fake articles and a winning candidate who fully embraced social media as a way to circumvent the media establishment and its proclivity for checking facts.

The problem with rumors and fake news grew so acute that President Obama felt the need to address it at a Clinton rally Monday in Michigan.

“And people, if they just repeat attacks enough, and outright lies over and over again, as long as it’s on Facebook and people can see it, as long as it’s on social media, people start believing it. And it creates this dust cloud of nonsense,” he said.

The question now is whether Facebook and other social media platforms have the responsibility to stop, or at least identify to readers, phony news. That’s eliciting some reflection in Silicon Valley, which has always advocated a laissez faire approach to information.

In a widely shared video Wednesday, Dave McClure, founder of the business accelerator 500 Startups, went on an expletive-laden tirade about technology and President-elect Donald Trump’s victory at a tech summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

“Technology has a role in that we … provide communication platforms for the rest of the [expletive] country and we are allowing [expletive] to happen like the cable news networks…. It’s…

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