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Facebook Exec: Russian Ads Weren’t Trying To Sway 2016 Election

In a series of tweets, a top Facebook executive said Friday that the “Russians stole the 2016 election away from Hillary Clinton” narrative is bogus.

Facebook advertising Vice President Rob Goldman said he was “very excited” to see the indictment special counsel Robert Mueller released Friday outlining charges against 13 Russian nationals. Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether Trump or his campaign associates colluded with Russian officials to sway the 2016 election, charged these foreigners with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three of the 13 were charged with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Five were charged with aggravated identity theft.

Later that evening, Goldman tweeted that the social network shared with Congress the ads from Russian nationals to “help the public understand how the Russians abused our system.”


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.

— Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018

He explained that the ads made it apparent the goal was to divide the country, not to steal Hillary’s electoral victory.


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.

— Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018


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. https://t.co/jO9GwWy2qH

— Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018

Goldman concluded his tweet storm by saying Facebook was taking “aggressive steps to prevent this sort of meddling in the future.”


We are also taking aggressive steps to prevent this sort of meddling in the future by requiring verification of political advertisers and by making all ads on the platform visible to anyone who cares to examine them. https://t.co/EPrubt7mqm

— Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018

On Saturday President Trump retweeted Goldman’s thread explaining the ads, with the following message: “The Fake News Media never fails. Hard to ignore this fact from the Vice President of Facebook Ads, Rob Goldman!”


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

Trump’s tweet cause several media outlets to fly into a panic, leading them to double down on the “Russia made Hillary lose!” narrative all over again. Here’s a few headlines from around the web.

    • Quartz: “Facebook and Trump are telling the same misleading story about Russian propaganda”
    • Recode: “President Trump is using tweets from a Facebook executive to argue Russia didn’t influence the election”
    • Talking Points Memo: “Facebook Still Lying About Its Role in the 2016 Election”
    • New York Magazine: “Trump Cites Facebook Ad Executive in Attempt to Discredit Russia’s Election Meddling”

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