Facebook executive sets the US mainstream media straight about Russian election meddling

Update: President Trump just weighed in on Rob Goldman’s story (follows below).


It is refreshing to see U.S. media outlets set straight about a story that has been pushed by journalists in earnest before the current president was even sworn into office; namely, that Russians meddled in the 2016 election to get Hillary Clinton elected and that Trump colluded with them.

(Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images)

A Facebook executive, reacting to the recent Mueller grand jury indictment of 13 Russians for their social media activity during the 2016 election, laid out an outstanding case that the mainstream media have been misrepresenting Russia’s interest in meddling in the U.S. election, a case that this political observer has been making since Day One of the story.

(Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)

Rob Goldman, VP of ads for Facebook, stated the following in a lengthy thread:

“Very excited to see the Mueller indictment today. We shared Russian ads with Congress, Mueller and the American people to help the public understand how the Russians abused our system. Still, there are keys facts about the Russian actions that are still not well understood,” he wrote.

“Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal,” he continued.

“The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump [sic] and the election,” he said.

“The main goal of the Russian propaganda and misinformation effort is to divide America by using our institutions, like free speech and social media, against us. It has stoked fear and hatred amongst Americans. It is working incredibly well. We are quite divided as a nation,” Goldstein said.

It is worth emphasizing that this is exactly the case. It recently came out in a Politico report that Russians were pushing for Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries. Where are the mainstream media stories arguing that Sanders colluded with the Russians? There aren’t and there shouldn’t be. There shouldn’t be stories pushing Trump-Russia collusion speculation, either.

“The single best demonstration of Russia’s true motives is the Houston anti-islamic protest. Americans were literally puppeted into the streets by trolls who organized both the sides of protest,” Goldstein continued.

Just to underscore this point, this isn’t the only case of Russians playing both sides. As reported earlier by CNBC, Russians utilized political groups that were on both the right and left, representing ideological and cultural diversity:

“The groups created social media movements including United Muslims of America, Army of Jesus, Blacktivist, South United, and Heart of Texas, with a goal of undermining democracy as a whole, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. They purchased advertisements and had hundreds of accounts in the names of both real and made-up Americans.”

Politico also reported the fact that Russian government and its media mouthpieces have used social media to discredit Trump after he became president:

Top lawyers from Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that Russian-linked posts and advertisements placed on the social networks after Election Day sought to sow doubt about President Donald Trump’s victory.

Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told a Senate Judiciary panel that content generated by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency after Nov. 8 centered on “fomenting discord about the validity of [Trump’s] election.” That’s a change from Russia’s pre-election activity, which was largely centered on trying to denigrate Hillary Clinton, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a January report.

“The Russian campaign is ongoing. Just last week saw news that Russian spies attempted to sell a fake video of Trump with a hooker to the NSA. US officials cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian plot to create discord,” Goldstein went on.

“There are easy ways to fight this. Disinformation is ineffective against a well educated citizenry. Finland, Sweden and Holland have all taught digital literacy and critical thinking about misinformation to great effect,” he said.

As a former journalist who worked in Moscow blocks from Red Square, and who specializes in Russian foreign affairs, I can testify that the goal of the Kremlin’s active measures was to pit Americans against each other: Ideologically, culturally, and politically.

The Facebook executive deserves credit for setting the mainstream media straight about Russian interference in U.S. elections and that the actual goal is to promote division and sow discord in the United States. If only the rest of the media were so honest.


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Kyle Becker


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