A Facebook exec weighed in on the government’s Russia investigation this weekend, catching the attention of President Trump.
The US on Friday indicted 13 Russian nationals for election meddling that included “operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.”
The next day, Rob Goldman, VP of ads for Facebook, ironically took to Twitter to discuss the indictment. Much of the Russian advertising spend on Facebook, he wrote, occurred after the 2016 US election, not before.
“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,” Goldman wrote.
“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 Trump and the election,” he added in a subsequent tweet.
Trump re-tweeted that message, and his own comment.
The Fake News Media never fails. Hard to ignore this fact from the Vice President of Facebook Ads, Rob Goldman! https://t.co/XGC7ynZwYJ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018
In the indictment, the Justice Department said the Russians “engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”
After some pushback on its his initial tweets, Goldman followed up with a tweet to indicate that he was “only speaking here about the Russian behavior on Facebook. That is the only aspect that I observed directly.”
Goldman was also criticized for highlighting Russian advertising spending—his obvious area of focus—at the expense of other organic activities on the social network. For example, Facebook previously admitted that up to 126 million people likely viewed various posts on the social network placed by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company that posted approximately 80,000 pieces of content between January 2015 and August 2017. (On Instagram, more than 170 accounts posted around 120,000 pieces of divisive content.)
“This thread by FB’s VP of ads would have you believe that: — most of Russia’s work was through ads (it wasn’t) — FB execs were eager to investigate Russian meddling and release findings (they weren’t) — future disinfo ops won’t be able to game a verification process,” wrote Kevin Roose, a New York Times columnist.
Goldman then returned to Twitter. “Thanks for the proof read. If only One could edit ones tweet. As to the substance: the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Trump. The point is that the misinformation campaign is ongoing and must be addressed. Today, we saw Russian pro gun tweets re: Florida shooting,” Goldman wrote.