Democrats who studied the Russian interference strategy during the 2016 presidential race in the U.S., then used those tactics against a GOP candidate for Senate in a special election in Alabama, now are under investigation.
WND reported only a day earlier that LinkedIn billionaire Reid Hoffman admitted partly funding the group that “used disinformation tactics” in the 2017 election to fill the seat that opened up when Sen. Jeff Sessions was appointed attorney general.
The tactics were used against GOP candidate Judge Roy Moore, the state’s former Supreme Court chief justice. Democrat Doug Jones eventually won the race, by a narrow margin.
A report in the Washington Examiner Thursday revealing Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the facts are problematic.
“The information is concerning,” Marshal said. “The impact it had on the election is something that’s significant for us to explore, and we’ll go from there.”
He stopped short of announcing a formal investigation into whether the tactics tilted the election results to the Democrat.
The report said Facebook suspended five accounts linked to the operation for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the Verge reported.
One of those accounts was that of Jonathon Morgan, of the cybersecurity New Knowledge, the report said.
The report said Hoffman had backed American Engagement Technologies, which used Facebook in the same way Russia did during the 2016 election.
“They created misleading Facebook pages, urged Republicans in Alabama to support a write-in candidate instead of Roy Moore, and ‘created false evidence that bots were backing Moore on Twitter’ to spur misleading news headlines,” the report said.
It was known as Project Birmingham.
“I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing,” said Hoffman, who handed over $750,000 to AET.
“On Wednesday, he apologized for having unknowingly contributed to a group that participated in the coordinated campaign,” the report said.
“I want to be unequivocal: there is absolutely no place in our democracy for manipulating facts or using falsehoods to gain political advantage,” Hoffman told the Washington Post, the Verge explained.
WND had reported on information uncovered by the New York Times that documented how Democrats had researched how Russians used social media to influence the 2016 presidential race and deployed the same tactics against Judge Roy Moore, the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama who lost to Democrat Doug Jones.
The Times said it obtained an “internal report” on the Democrats’ tactics in the special election to replace Sessions.
“The secret project, carried out on Facebook and Twitter, was likely too small to have a significant effect on the race,” the Times claimed.
But the paper said it is a sign “that American political operatives of both parties have paid close attention to the Russian methods.”
Congress has investigated claims that Russian operatives used social media platforms to disseminate “fake news” to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Subsequently, Facebook has responded to pressure from lawmakers warning of antitrust legislation by restricting news links on its platform. Meanwhile, conservative news outlets and voices have presented evidence of viewpoint-based censorship.
The Times said that one participant “in the Alabama project, Jonathon Morgan, is the chief executive of New Knowledge, a small cyber security firm that wrote a scathing account of Russia’s social media operations in the 2016 election that was released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee.”
The internal report obtained by the Times says it “experimented with many of the tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections.”
The Democrats posed as conservatives on Facebook “to try to divide Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from Mr. Moore,” the Times said.