By Andrei Akulov | Strategic Culture
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, his company will submit to US congressional investigators the contents of 3,000 political ads bought by “entities linked to the Russian government” to sway the 2016 US election. The statement was made after the damaging revelation that shadowy buyers bought the ads and targeted them at US users between 2015 and 2017. Under pressure from Congress, in particular, Mark Warner, Vice Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee, to do more to prevent the use of Facebook for election manipulation, Zuckerberg said he supported the investigation by the Congress.
Facebook initially denied that it had posted any ads “paid by the Russians.” The company’s founder was dismissive of the idea that his social-media empire might have been manipulated to influence the election’s outcome. But later he said the company had recently uncovered the activity related to the interference. Facebook disclosed on Sept. 6 it had identified $100,000 in advertising bought by a “shadowy company tied to the Kremlin.” Many of the adverts promoted 470 fake accounts and pages, spreading divisive social and political messages. Topics included immigration, race and gay rights, although they did not express support for a particular candidate. If so, how could they influence the election results?
According to Zuckerberg, the company is actively working with the federal government on its ongoing investigations. When “the Russia-linked ads” were discovered recently, they were provided to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Now Facebook is providing the ads to Congress. “It is a new challenge for internet communities to have to deal with nation states attempting to subvert elections,” he added, referring to Russia.
The company will take measures to protect election integrity moving forward. In particular, it will make political ads on the social network more transparent, so that people can see which ads are being run in connection with an election. Facebook will more than double their election integrity team in size and collaborate more closely with election commissions around the world, with a goal of adding 250 people working on security, Zuckerberg said. It should be noted that the policy is changed at a time Facebook is fending off possible anti-trust legislation.
As usual, US media has started to spread around the stories about Russia. For instance, the Washington Post wrote that “Members of a hacking group connected to Russia’s military intelligence unit, the GRU, began creating fake Facebook accounts to amplify stolen emails as early as June 2016.”
In a tweet referring to the turnover of the Facebook ads, President Trump wrote that “The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook.” “What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary,” asked the president, using a nickname for former White House hopeful Hillary Clinton. Trump has repeatedly derided the investigation as a “witch hunt,” dismissing the conclusion of US intelligence agencies since last year that the Russian government sought to tip the election in Trump’s favor over the Democratic presidential candidate.
Russia did not place adverts on Facebook to try to influence the 2016 US Presidential election, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on September 22. “We have never done it and the Russian side has never had anything to do with it,” he noted.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) prohibits the Government access to stored electronic communications, including transmissions of electronic data by computer. It extends the warrant requirement to communications stored for more than 180 days. In line with this legislation, Facebook has to protect user’s information, be it a fake account or not. The company can be sued for its violation. Instead, Facebook succumbed to pressure and joined the anti-Russia propaganda campaign.
Actually, Facebook joined the frenzy as far back as January when Russia Today (RT) was temporarily blocked from posting live streams, images, and videos to its Facebook page, which boasts over four million followers. The ban coincided with the Trump’s inauguration.
Facebook’s close ties with the CIA is an open secret. There are many revelations to confirm it. Mark Zuckerberg was funded indirectly by the CIA via Peter Thiel. Thiel is a cofounder of PayPal with Elon Musk of Tesla fame. Thiel invested $500,000 into Facebook but supposedly this was a CIA investment. Thiel is very close to the CIA. His company Palanitir, supposedly worth some $20 billion, runs secret algorithms for the CIA and other intel agencies.
Businessman Paul Ceglia, now on the run, claimed in 2010 that he owned 84 per cent of Facebook per an alleged 2003 contract with Mark Zuckerberg. In 2012 he was charged with altering documents to bolster his claim. In emails sent to the site from August 3-8, Ceglia said he and his family had fled abroad and were now living under the radar, lest the CIA kill them. He says the reason for the supposed plot against his life is that his fraud trial might reveal involvement by the CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, in Facebook.
Facebook supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. The company’s co-founders donated big sums to her campaign. Zuckerberg sharply criticized Republican President Donald Trump‘s immigration policies, saying he was “concerned” about the impact of the president’s first executive orders. Now they need Zuckerberg to come into spotlight, joining the anti-Russian propaganda campaign along with other prominent Americans, such as actor Morgan Freeman, for example.
No doubt, Facebook will keep an eye on “wrong news” and pro-Russian views leading into the 2018 midterm elections and of course, the 2020 Presidential race. Zuckerberg is meticulous in stewarding its own image. There are signs that he is riding the wave of anti-Russian frenzy and cooperating with the deep state is the right way to go about it.