LinkedIn co-founder and billionaire, Reid Hoffman donated more than $750,000 to an organization that used misinformation to ensure a loss for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Moore lost in last year’s special election and came under fire for sexual misconduct allegations, but online bots helped bruise his campaign.
The campaign against Moore was ran by American Engagement Technologies (AET), a left-leaning firm that works to get Democrats into office. The firm is run by Mikey Dickerson, a key player in helping the Obama administration in establishing the United States Digital Service and in revamping the original HealthCare.gov website.
Hoffman said he donated to AET before knowing about their use of misinformation tactics to help Democratic candidates. He also mentioned his donations to dozens of other organizations.
“I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing,” Hoffman said in a statement to the Washington Post. For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET – the organization I did support – more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject.”
AET allegedly used Russian-like tactics to boost support for Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones through Twitter and Facebook. Hoffman has called for an investigation into the matter.
Social media moguls have been under increasingly harsh criticism for their platforms’ roles in misinformation campaigns and what organizations they fund. Earlier this month, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted a week-long protest against Facebook for its privacy and data issues plus its involvement with partisan strategy firms. Facebook has been under fire for hiring opposition research from Definers Public Affairs on George Soros, who has been a heavy critic of the company.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were major targets during the Russian election interference. Ahead of the midterms, Facebook and Twitter worked to remove accounts and bots associated with misinformation.
“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 Post.