They say that politics is a full-contact sport, and it looks like Facebook and its parent company, Meta, are paying a big price for Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to wade into the 2020 election.
Americans were shocked to learned last week that Meta shares dropped an astonishing 25% after a quarterly report became public indicating that the company’s profits plummeted by a jaw-dropping 52%. And to make matters worse for Meta, its fourth-quarter outlook is looking just as gloomy — which will close out a year that’s already seen shares nosedive 61%. This news not only has people wondering where the bottom is for Meta but also what in the world caused this slow moving train wreck to happen in the first place.
Over the past two years, Mr. Zuckerberg’s infamous $400 million spending spree in the 2020 election has received a lot of scrutiny. Citizens United’s documentary “Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump” shows how Mr. Zuckerberg put his thumb on the scale to help then-candidate Joe Biden win the White House by funding what turned out to be a massive get-out-the-vote effort by Democrats in key areas around the country. Our analysis found that 92% of the largest grants — totaling $272 million —went to jurisdictions carried by President Biden.
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This unprecedented amount of money was distributed by left-wing operatives not only to critical battleground states and counties, but also to heavily populated deep blue areas in order to supercharge Mr. Biden’s popular vote tally.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s team insisted until they were blue in the face that the operation was nonpartisan — even though Obama campaign manager David Plouffe was strategist in residence. However, once IRS reports became public and the money could be tracked, the lie no longer held up. Due to the hard work of many Americans around the country who have dedicated themselves to the cause of election integrity, 28 state legislatures have banned or restricted the practice of injecting private money — or “Zuckbucks,” as it has become known — into the administration of our elections.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s involvement in the 2020 election ended up backfiring horribly. By choosing to ingratiate himself with the woke left out of fear of cancel culture, Mr. Zuckerberg ended up offending 74 million Trump voters — many of whom are Facebook users and advertisers. But it wasn’t just Mr. Zuckerberg’s money helping Mr. Biden that outraged Trump voters. It was also his judgment.
Facebook’s outrageous decision to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story by falsely labeling it Russian disinformation after being tipped off by the FBI was a bridge too far. This highly targeted election interference could have very well been the difference maker in a presidential election that was decided by just 42,000 votes in three states.
Does Mr. Zuckerberg’s foray into politics during the 2020 presidential election campaign figure into Meta’s current flirtation with disaster? Of course it does. After the Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark decision for free speech in Citizens United, everyone on the left from President Barack Obama on down predicted that big corporations were going to buy our elections with untold millions of dollars and drown out the voices of everyday Americans. To this day, these dire warnings haven’t materialized for what I believe are obvious reasons. Corporate CEOs rightly prioritize profits over politics; making political expenditures is an easy way to alienate board members, upset employees and lose customers. Mr. Zuckerberg should have been paying much closer attention to how his money was being spent.
Shortly after “Rigged” was released and the Zuckbucks controversy was coming to a head, Mr. Zuckerberg announced that he wouldn’t participate in similar efforts in future elections. While this startling admission was a huge victory for Trump voters and the conservative movement, for Mr. Zuckerberg, this was just a business decision, plain and simple. Mr. Zuckerberg calculated that throwing up his hands in an attempt to stop the bleeding was the best course of action. It may have been too little, too late.
Ironically, helping propel Mr. Biden to the White House has caused economic pain for everyone — including Mr. Zuckerberg. Not only has his enormous net worth been decimated, Meta’s advertising revenue is also taking a big hit. Mr. Zuckerberg’s election spending, along with Facebook’s Orwellian censorship and the serious ongoing concerns about privacy, personal data, and the adverse impact that social media content is having on our kids may amount to a perfect storm that’s impossible to weather in the long run.
• David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United and served as deputy campaign manager of Donald J. Trump for President.