Facebook is hoping to mollify skeptical conservatives by underwriting the largest annual gathering of conservative activists in the United States. The social media giant donated $120,000 to this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the form of both cash and in-kind sponsorship.
The left is pulling their hair out over the news. However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg realizes that young conservatives are cynical of the site, and a six-figure donation is a relatively small price to pay to salvage a large demographic.
We all know Zuckerberg has been very critical of Trump’s policies and has had a rocky relationship with the President. For a while, many outlets were starting rumors that Zuckerberg was planning to run in 2020 – posing a potential threat to Trump – when he announced that he wanted to “meet people in every state in the US.” He was also one of the most outspoken opponents of Trump’s executive order on immigration.
But this isn’t about Zuckerberg. Nor is it about President Trump. Facebook is attempting to redefine its image as a nonpartisan social media company— and a trustworthy, non-biased news source.
The website took a hit among conservatives last year after Gizmodo exposed that its news curators purposely buried articles about right-leaning topics, including CPAC. Zuckerberg immediately launched an investigation into the matter, but conservatives have remained skeptical. Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, even refused an invite to a roundtable of conservative leaders to address the claims. Additionally, as Heat Street points out, conservatives have faced undeniable censorship on many documented occasions.
This is damage control – plain and simple – and is really just a drop in the bucket for a company that boasted a net income of $10.2 billion last year.
According to Politico, Facebook is teaching conservative-leaning candidates at CPAC “how to use its platform to reach new voters,” and is holding a happy hour for up-and-coming conservatives. The social network clearly realizes that the conservatives who attend CPAC tend to be social media influencers, and can to attract more conservatives to engage with their platforms.
Good for Facebook.
Many conservatives have called to dump Facebook over their bias, but such a move is counterproductive. It’s important for young conservatives to stay engaged and fight the social media battles that will win the next generation. After all, Facebook is – and will likely remain – the leader in social media. Millennials might as well use it to their advantage.