Trump Caught Blackmailing Zuckerberg into Rigging Facebook

Scandal Could Change Outcome of the Election

Mark Zuckerberg taking a selfie with a fan. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a scandal that could upend the outcome of the election, new documents reveal that President-elect Donald Trump coerced Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg into tweaking his website’s algorithm in a way that benefitted the GOP nominee.

Earlier this year, Facebook was accused of shutting out conservative outlets from its “Trending News” column. Trump, who was worried that this could cost him the election, spent $9 million of his own money to hire several private investigators. They were tasked with digging into Zuckerberg’s background.

They struck gold in late July, shortly after Trump had accepted the Republican nomination in Cleveland. His investigators found the smoking gun showing that Zuckerberg had screwed Eduardo Saverin out of an ownership stake in Facebook. The document further showed that Zuckerberg had not been the inventor of Facebook but, rather, had stolen the idea from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, which had been alluded to in the movie “A Social Network.”

In an August 3 phone call, Trump threatened to go public with the documents, which WhoWhatWhy obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. That would have put Zuckerberg in a precarious situation. To ensure Trump’s silence, he agreed to help his fellow billionaire win the presidency. For his part, the GOP nominee promised to unleash Steve Bannon’s army of offshore pepe trolls.

The impact of his assistance could be noted immediately. As readers may recall, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had built a very large lead in the race following her convention. On August 4, she was up by 8 points in the average of national polls.

However, after Zuckerberg ordered his Facebook Premium Algorithm Loop Mapping (FacePALM) team to tweak his company’s software, the dynamics of the race changed and Trump was closing the gap quickly.

A simple change to the algorithm ensured that anti-Trump stories would no longer be visible by Facebook users who were registered as Independents. Instead, they saw a barrage of articles about Clinton’s private email server, the Clinton Foundation and rumors of Clinton’s affair with her campaign chair John Podesta.

Zuckerberg’s involvement shows the incredible power that social media companies have. WhoWhatWhy warned about the outsized impact of Facebook, Google, etc. more than a year ago and it looks as though our fears were well founded.


As you may have noticed, just about everything in this “article” is made up. Why did we write it? To highlight the growing problem of fake news.

In addition to posting it with a cartoon, we actually tried to make this story sound increasingly ridiculous, for example by calling Zuckerberg’s team FacePALM, or pretending that it was possible to file FOIA requests to get information from private persons or companies. Most importantly, we said there were documents but we didn’t provide them (although somebody who was actually trying to mislead could have forged those).

But we also wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to make something sound true-ish. We included plenty of corroborating background information, such as Trump’s rise in the polls and the accusation that Facebook censored conservative news.

The danger of fake news is that it sounds plausible, especially if the information provided confirms previously held beliefs.

In the end, however, the spread of fake news hurts everybody. Disinformation is harmful whether it comes from a government or a private citizen. We all must do our part to fight this growing problem. A special burden, however, must be placed on social media companies like Facebook, which are profiting off fake news.

One thing that is 100% true in this article is that that we warned that social media giants already have the power to sway an election.

We pride ourselves on having a diverse audience with readers from across the political spectrum who don’t just accept the official narrative and who question the things they see. We hope that you will continue to use this skepticism and join us in the fight against fake news.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Mark Zuckerberg and bodies (Presidencia de la República Mexicana / Flickr – CC BY 2.0) and background (Web Summit / Flickr – CC BY 2.0).

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Trump (Gage Skidmore / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0) and Zuckerberg (Presidencia de la República Mexicana / Flickr  – CC BY 2.0).

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.


31 responses to “Trump Caught Blackmailing Zuckerberg into Rigging Facebook”

  1. Campanelle says:

    Every time I post on FB the site drags me to a Trump website. I am sick of it.

  2. todg says:

    Fake news from official media sources is nothing new.

  3. Sean Brown says:

    You know what the best answer to “fake news” is? Google. If “fake news” truly had any effect on the election, it was only because people failed to properly research things. Instead of warning and crying about it, you should be telling people the best way to combat it is to never take anything at face value and instead research it themselves. Besides, the mainstream media had plenty of “fake news” this election, but I have yet to hear anyone call them out on any of it…

  4. AC says:

    For me, it was the author “DonkeyHotey” that made it an immediate red flag. I’m new to this site, but that just seems very fake to me. I always check authors when reading “news”.

    • Larry Payne says:

      Donkeyhotey is the illustrator who created the graphic for the article.

    • AC says:

      Oh okay, cool. Thanks for taking the time to fill me in. Not a name I personally would use for professional purposes, but to each their own. Definitely threw me off.

    • Larry Payne says:

      It would serve you better to concentrate on the author, Klaus Marre.
      He claims to have been a reporter covering the 9/11 Commission.
      He also claims 9/11 inspired him to write “Human Intelligence,” which is fiction. 9/11 should have inspired him to write the truth which was entirely missing from the 9/11 Commission Report.

    • AC says:

      Once again, I thank you for your freely given information.

  5. J C says:

    Cute, but calling Trump a billionaire was a give away.

    Also, y’all didn’t provide documents, and any public documents would have taken years to assemble. And there were none, since it was an accusation of a private deal.

    Then the story stuck too close to the claims of the plaintiffs in “The Social Network”.

    And of course, Hillary’s polling numbers only really crashed in early September, they didn’t trend down all August as this story implies.

  6. sk1bum says:

    I spoke of this article before I finished the it – BEFORE I came to the the fake news disclosure. (Fortunately only to my wife inside this house.) Certainly an intelligent audience, however… let’s be careful out there.

  7. David S says:

    It is documented that Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others have modified their algorithms to exclude news links that were pro-Trump, pro-freedom, or questioned Hillary’s health, Clinton Foundation crimes, etc. If this kind of software manipulation can alter elections then Hillary’s original lead was the result of the same, and our electoral system and the sheep that are allowed to vote in it are worthless. Sorry, if true stories that are being actively suppressed by the MSM gave Trump the lead, then the MSM should be charged with treason, vote rigging, or similar for blocking them, along with all the Wikileaks information that was actively suppressed. Both worthless parties have been allowed to exist for way too long and to do way too much damage to this country and our freedoms. Time for both to go.

  8. Calis Sims says:

    Sorry Russ – still love ya, but I think you should stick to what you do best – writing the truth.

  9. Westcoastliberal says:

    I didn’t believe this story for one second. When discussing “fake news” let’s not forget the NYT and all those “weapons of mass destruction” served up by Judy Miller leading the invasion of Iraq. Let’s also not forget the law was changed, I believe sometime in the last year, to allow the government to blatantly serve up propaganda to American citizens. IMO that’s the real “fake news” story, and the 200 websites on the WaPo list are the ones to click to for the “real news”, including this site of course.

    • J C says:

      Let’s not forget the lies of the NY Times, “there was no coup in Ukraine in early 2014”, this in some ways is worse than the fake news leading up to the Iraq war, since this Ukraine claim is a story from early 2015–long after the coup.

      The Times’ Jackie Calmes has told various lies about the finances of Social Security for some years–she’s a reporter not some kind of opinion columnist.

      The Times has repeatedly said that the ACA is akin to the Dutch and Swiss systems, it isn’t.

      Right before the election, an analysis by Neil Irwin claimed the “US economy is fundamentally sound”.

      So, more examples of fake news, which as you say is not new to 2016. And “fake news” is really a BS excuse for Hillary Clinton being a bad candidate, who many warned against, in very clear and calm terms for more than 18 months leading up to the election.

  10. weilunion says:

    By the way, with the crisis of legitimacy and confidence in all institutions now at a very high level, it would have been very easy to believe this article for people believe what they want to believe and carry their biases to what they read, which allows them to both not understand other points of view, but also seize on the FAKE news and use it as evidence to support their own unbridled and unexamined assumptions.

  11. weilunion says:

    I would also like to add that now that the corporate media has coined the term ‘FAKE NEWS’, we use it and point out such thing as fake news of WMD more and more for it happens every day. This term is one that will backfire on the Operation Mockingbird clones. For the corporate news is the pure definition of fake news and point this out, please, over and over again using examples.

    The real problem, of course, is the lack of critical thinking skills among the population. Critical thinking is not taught in school, it is too subversive. Oh, they teach logic and call it critical thinking but critical analysis of media is rarely taught. Not allowed now that the schools have been hijacked through privatization and fear by the rulers.

    So, in an attempt to help people think more critically it is very important to point to the Jessica Lynch corporate news plantation and help people see through disinformation and develop skills they can then teach others.

    • David S says:

      If the facts are being actively suppressed, it is hard to think critically. But I agree with your basic point. Government monopoly schools can no longer allow critical thinking lest everyone figure out just how bad things are and how much they have been lied to.

  12. JillMAdem says:

    OMG. As I’m reading this, I think: “That doesn’t sound true” and “That couldn’t be true” and “I don’t remember it that way”. But it took me to the end of the article to realize I was punked. Good job punking me (“Someone Who’s Not Easy To Be Punked”). And just like Betty, I thought “Oh, I don’t think so.” to the Podesta thing.

  13. AC says:

    That was awesome! Thanks for the morning chuckle. Not that I don’t think the fake news situation is very serious, just that I knew from the start that it was fake so it was a fun read.

  14. Betty says:

    “Clinton’s affair with her campaign chair John Podesta.” THAT was the one that got me–OH I missed that in all the wikileaks…FacePALM-well those nerds make up silly names…but we still have PIZZAGATE and Where is Assange.

  15. jstsmlbrlcnsrvtvguy says:

    Fake news is a problem for sure…

    …look how it helped get us into Iraq, for example

    • David S says:

      WW1 (the Lusitania was carrying munitions to provoke an attack), WW2 (FDR had been actively provoking Japan for over a year, knew the attack was coming, and did nothing – Read Robert Stennitt’s Day of Deceit), Vietnam (Gulf of Tonkin – a complete and total lie), the Gulf War (remember the lies about the Kuwaiti incubator babies), Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and so many more.

  16. abc xyz says:

    FOIA applies to govt entities.

    How did you get it to work on these two private entities?

  17. WillowTee says:

    I was about to delete your site from my book marks and then I read it’s all made up.

  18. jamiewolf says:

    Brilliant misleading example. I don’t think I really questioned it (well, maybe the FOI request and the idea that the misappropriated “invention” would be news) until I got to the supposed Clinton/Podesta liason. Very well done, and a perfect example!!

  19. llewellynh says:

    Whatever happened to the First Amendment?

  20. Mary Jane Kennedy says:

    Someone’s going to clip and post this as real; what do you bet?

    • jhnjdy says:

      Your so right Mary, there is a lot of gullible people out there that base their entire knowledge on the garbage they read on their computer.

    • Jane Dough says:

      Or they read the headline and then share the story without reading the article; im ashamed to say I’ve actually made that mistake, once.

    • jhnjdy says:

      We all are guilty of that mistake, but some of us can learn from and admit our mistakes. Life goes on….