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Zuckerberg considered buying Associated Press – media

The aim would have been to use the agency as a direct news source for Facebook, Business Insider has claimed

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg considered acquiring or funding major news outlet the Associated Press after the social media giant faced accusations of influencing the 2016 US presidential election, Business Insider reported on Tuesday, citing sources.

Now known as Meta, the company’s role in the election in which Donald Trump was voted into power faced intense scrutiny from Washington amid claims that the platform helped spread fake news. The situation worsened after Facebook disclosed that a Russian agency had spent $100,000 on social network ads that allegedly attempted to incite divisions during the presidential campaign.

Moscow has denied any involvement, while Facebook’s vice president for advertising, Rob Goldman, later revealed that the Russian spending had in fact come after the election. Zuckerberg, however, was still forced to make vast amendments to Facebook’s services and privacy policies, and even officially apologized for his handling of the platform at the US Congress in 2018.

According to Business Insider, the CEO had the idea of acquiring a news outlet around the same time. Sources said Zuckerberg had planned to use it as a reliable source of information to create high-quality news posts and tackle controversy over the platform’s content. The billionaire reportedly discussed the idea extensively within Facebook.

While Zuckerberg is said to have considered several media outlets for acquisition, he eventually focused on the Associated Press (AP), a major international news agency based in New York.

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The AP is a news cooperative, which made an outright acquisition difficult, sources claimed. Instead, Zuckerberg reportedly focused on the potential permanent subsidization of the agency. According to the report, the tech boss was set on acquiring the AP and even involved Facebook’s mergers and acquisitions team in his plans. He ultimately dropped the idea, however, supposedly fearing even more regulatory scrutiny over the move.

Later, Zuckerberg reportedly mulled the idea of launching Facebook’s own news organization to produce original content, and considered luring top journalists from other outlets with financial incentives. This idea was also said to have been abandoned amid concerns about the lack of public trust in the social media giant at the time.

Meta declined to comment on the report, while a spokeswoman for AP said the agency was unaware of any acquisition talks.

 

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