LinkedIn founder linked to groups using political manipulation


Shortly after the 2016 US presidential election, LinkedIn founder and billionaire Reid Hoffman made a series of multi-million-dollar donations to dozens of left-leaning groups. Among them was American Engagement Technologies, in which Hoffman invested $750,000. In 2018, Hoffman wound up apologising for that donation when the group was alleged to have used tactics similar to those of Russian operatives in the 2016 election to undermine support for Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore, who eventually narrowly lost to Democrat Doug Jones. Other groups Hoffman funded include groups that created pages and bought Facebook ads that used topics such as patriotism and sport to attract centre-right voters, whom they could then present with political news stories and policy-focused ads. One such was News for Democracy, which in 2017-2018 created or promoted Facebook pages such as "Sounds Like Tennessee" that appeared to be about sharing local news but that also bought at least some ads criticising Republican politicians. MotiveAI, another of the groups Hoffman backed, explained that their strategy was to try to reach both left and right with facts.

Writer: Tony Romm, Craig Timberg, and Aaron C. Davis
Publication: Washington Post

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