LinkedIn co-founder unknowingly funded disinformation effort in Alabama elections

Hoffman invested a total of $7,50,000 in the group's which used Russian-style disinformation tactics.


Earlier this week we learned that Facebook had suspended accounts of five people who reportedly spread disinformation during the special election in Alabama in 2017. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn had funded that group and has now apologised.

According to a report by The Washington Post, Hoffman apologized on 26 December for funding the group of five who carried out a "highly disturbing" effort that spread disinformation during last year’s Alabama special election for US Senate. However, he did say that he was unaware of what his money was being used for.

"There is absolutely no place in our democracy for manipulating facts or using falsehoods to gain political advantage. I would not have knowingly funded a project planning to use such tactics, and would have refused to invest in any organization that I knew might conduct such a project,” Hoffman told the publication.

 LinkedIn co-founder unknowingly funded disinformation effort in Alabama elections

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn. Image: Reuters

The group Hoffman funded was called American Engagement Technologies, and as we know, used Facebook for a Russian-style disinformation campaign. He invested a total of $7,50,000 in the group's apparent research.

Jonathon Morgan, the chief executive of a top social media research firm New Knowledge, and four other people who experimented during the 2017 Alabama elections. The group wanted to manipulate the votes in a manner that the votes for the Republican candidate Roy S Moore were undermined. They then sought to boost support for Democrat Doug Jones — who won that election.

Morgan had said that the experiment was conducted for the sake of research and to learn more about the kinds of methods Russia had used. He also acknowledged purchasing retweets on Twitter to calculate if that boosts political messages.

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