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What did Mark Zuckerberg know about Turkey’s elections, and when did he know it?


What do Zuck and Facebook really know about politics and elections? Maybe more than meets the eye.


On Thursday, April 19 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey suddenly announced that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on June 24. That’s more than a year early. The elections had been expected in November 2019. Almost no one would have predicted elections in Turkey this year.

Except for Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

In early April, Mr Zuckerberg talked to Vox’s Ezra Klein about Facebook’s responsibilities ahead of elections due this year (listen to the entire audio interview on the Ezra Klein Show) and he rattled off the following: Turkey, India, Hungary and Brazil. He ran through much the same list in his testimony before the US Congress.

“Given the importance of these elections, especially 2018 — with major elections in the United States, India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Hungary coming up soon — we just thought that that wasn’t enough.” — Mark Zuckerberg, The Atlantic.

“In order to require verification for all of these pages and advertisers, we will hire thousands of more people. We're committed to getting this done in time for the critical months before the 2018 elections in the U.S. as well as elections in Mexico, Brazil, India, Pakistan and elsewhere in the next year.” — Mark Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony ahead of the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, U.S. House of Representatives.

“2018 is — is an incredibly important year for elections. Not just in — with the U.S. midterms, but, around the world, there are important elections — in India, in Brazil, in Mexico, in Pakistan and in Hungary, that — we want to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the integrity of those elections.” — Mark Zuckerberg, Senate hearing, The Washington Post.


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That was strange, for two reasons.

First, the Hungarian election ended on April 8, the very weekend before Mr Zuckerberg’s testimony (April 10). And yet, Facebook’s CEO did not update his comments.

Second, Hungary and Brazil were always due in 2018, but Turkey and India’s elections were meant to be in 2019.

It seemed as if Mr Zuckerberg was massively inaccurate. But now that Mr Erdogan has announced snap polls, Facebook’s founder comes across as prescient.

Mr Erdogan has argued that uncertainty in Syria and Iraq makes it essential for Turkey to switch to an executive presidency.

Is India’s Narendra Modi going to call an early election too?🔷





(This piece was first published on Medium.)


(Cover: Flickr/Lorie Shaull - Facebook protester with giant Mark Zuckerberg head, Washington DC - 11 April 2018.)


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Journalist by trade & inclination. World affairs columnist.
London, UK & Tunis, Tunisia. Website

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