Top Clinton Aide Says Facebook Helped Trump Win, Demands Investigation

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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One of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s primary lieutenants is demanding an investigation into Facebook for supposedly tilting the election in President Donald Trump’s favor.

Phillipe Reines, a former senior adviser to Clinton when she ran the Department of State, used a Feb. 23 Wired article to make the case that Facebook algorithm peddlers are partially to blame for the Trump administration. He is also pushing the Federal Election Commission to probe the platform’s mid-election advertising practices.

“This piece by a Facebook (@facebook) insider should trigger a Federal Election Commission (@FEC) investigation into FB’s illegal in-kind contributions to the Trump campaign by virtue of charging the Clinton campaign the same amount — but for far fewer ads,” Reines wrote in a tweet Sunday.

He was responding to an article Wired published early February suggesting the social-media giant charged both campaigns the same amount for advertising space while issuing fewer overall ads for Clinton’s team. Reines’s argument is Facebook model Custom Audiences helped Trump reach more people with less money, which he believes is illegal.

“CNN can’t take $100 from Candidate A in exchange for 100 ads on Tuesday and $100 from Candidate B in exchange for only 10 ads on the same Tuesday,” Reines wrote in a response to a follower who asked about the legality of such a move. “The disparity in rate should be counted as an in-kind contribution.”

Media personalities and Democratic-intelligentsia members have hammered Facebook in recent months over the platform’s handling of Russian ads during the election. CNN national security analyst and retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, for instance, suggested earlier this month that social media companies are “treasonous” for allowing Russian trolls to use their websites to disseminate disinformation.

“In asymmetric warfare, words and disinformation are critical weapons…social-media firms are aiding and abetting our enemies, providing them a firing platform,” wrote Hertling.

His criticism comes after a federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals in February for creating fake social media personas aimed at sowing discord among American voters.

The operatives planted divisive Facebook and Twitter political ads that were largely aimed at boosting Trump and criticizing Clinton. Some ads did support progressive candidates like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Dr. Jill Stein.

Facebook Vice President of advertising Rob Goldman insisted shortly after indictment issuance the Russian ads’ goal was to sow discord — not to sway the election. He also claimed most of the spending on Facebook ads occurred after Trump’s election win.

“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 on Twitter.

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