Category Archives: facebook

Firm That Worked For Facebook Tried To Plant Story Alleging Liberal Bias At Apple News

(CNN) — The conservative public affairs firm that worked for Facebook, and spread opposition research about the social media company’s critics and competitors, tried to get at least one journalist to do a story suggesting that the editors of Apple’s news application were biased against Republicans.

The firm provided little evidence to back up its claim.

The Apple News app is preloaded onto all new iPhones; millions of users access news on it every day. Apple employs editors who curate some of the stories featured on the app.

Definers Public Affairs, which Facebook fired on Wednesday after a New York Times report revealed the company had dug up information on Facebook’s critics and competitors, tried to show that staff working on Apple News had donated more money to Democratic candidates and causes than they had to Republicans.

Facebook told CNN Business that this research on Apple was not done on its behalf.

Definers sent the document, which was titled “Apple News Curators’ Political Donations,” as an unsolicited pitch to a CNN employee this summer.

The case the firm tried to make alleging political bias at Apple News was weak. As the dossier itself acknowledged, it was not even clear that all of the political donors it had found were Apple News employees or whether they were just people who shared similar names.

“30 individuals have been identified as working for Apple in media curation roles or specifically at Apple News. Five of these individuals have contributed to Democratic candidates or causes,” the document claimed. It also said that only one person connected to Apple News who had contributed to Republicans had been identified.

The document included screenshots of the employees’ LinkedIn profiles and details of their alleged donations.

The evidence was not very compelling.

One of the five employees Definers said were Democrats had donated $55 to Democratic candidates and causes in 2018, according to the firm.

Definers claimed another employee had donated $11,500, before acknowledging that it had not confirmed if the person “who made these contributions is the same individual that currently works for Apple News.”

Facebook also faced allegations of political bias in 2016 when it had a curated news feature edited by people rather than machines. The company scrapped the feature entirely after the controversy.

In a statement provided to CNN Business on Thursday night, a Facebook spokesperson said of Definers’ Apple News research, “This was not a project done for Facebook.”

Definers did not respond to CNN Business’ request for comment about the Apple News dossier.

On Thursday, after Facebook disclosed that it had ended its relationship with the firm, a spokesperson for Definers said in a statement, “We are proud to have partnered with Facebook over the past year on a range of public affairs services. All of our work is based on publicly-available documents and information.”

It released another statement on Friday. In that statement, it said, “To be clear: Definers was not hired by Facebook as an opposition research firm. That might be the sexy story for media outlets because several of us have spent years doing research and communications for high-stakes political campaigns, but that was not the scope of work we had for Facebook.

“In fact, Definers’ main services for Facebook were basic media monitoring and public relations around public policy issues facing the company. We ran a large-scale news alert service keeping hundreds of Facebook staff informed on news stories about the company and its policy challenges.”

Tim Miller, who lists himself on his LinkedIn profile as a partner at Definers, told the Times that Definers’ work on Apple had been funded by a third technology company, not Facebook. CNN Business has not yet confirmed the identity of that third company.

A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.

© Copyright 2018 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Schumer Deflects Claims That He Pushed Colleagues To Go Easy On Facebook

(CNN) — Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer defended himself Thursday against a report that he encouraged his colleagues to go easy on Facebook amid investigations into the social media giant’s role in spreading Russian misinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

According to the New York Times, Schumer urged Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to find ways to work with Facebook rather than harm it.

Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said in a statement Thursday that the New York senator “has worked aggressively to push Facebook to do more to purge fake accounts and bots used by the right wing and Russians to perpetuate a disinformation campaign and interfere with our elections.”

“Schumer has worried that Facebook would bow to pressure from Republicans, who oppose the purging of the fake accounts and bots, and has urged Senator Warner and the Senate Intelligence committee to make this the priority in their ongoing investigation of the company,” Goodman added.

Warner declined to answer questions about the Times’ claims on Thursday.

“I’m not going to talk about any private conversations I had with the leader,” Warner told reporters. “He was very aware of the fact that our committee has been relentless, and has still got a lot of questions that need to get answered.”

He added that the Times’ description of Facebook’s efforts to sidestep questions about Russian meddling efforts conducted via its platforms, including Instagram, validated congressional inquiries.

“Frankly, but for the Intelligence inquiry and constant pressure, I think we would be even more in the dark,” Warner said. “And I’m happy to see that there’s greater cooperation now, but clearly this was the case as we suspected that for a number of months, they just hoped this problem was going away.”

Warner’s House intelligence committee counterpart, California Rep. Adam Schiff, told CNN that he didn’t know whether the claims about Schumer are “accurate or not.”

Schiff added that he “certainly” intends to talk to Facebook about the Times’ “concerning” report.

“They were obviously slow to come to grips with what the Russians were doing on their platform and the misuse of their platform,” said Schiff. “If they were deliberately slow to convey that information to us, that’s deeply disturbing.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a conference call Thursday that the company had been too slow to deal with the Russian disinformation problem on its platform in 2016, but said it was “simply untrue” to suggest that he and other executives “weren’t interested in knowing the truth.”

The intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections in part by using social media platforms like Facebook changed the company’s relationship with Washington.

Many members of Congress appear to remain unsure of how to hold the company accountable. During Mark Zuckerberg’s April hearing before senators — the most high-profile showdown between Facebook and Washington — some of the members of Congress seemed either unfamiliar with its business or to treat it with deference.

Schumer has publicly been a Facebook fan.

In March, he told the tech website Recode that Facebook is a “very powerful force.”

“I think overall it’s been a very positive force,” said Schumer. “I think now people are taking advantage of the openness of the net, and Facebook has an obligation to try and deal with it. I’ve talked to them. I truly believe they want to. I truly believe they know that their future is at stake with this. I also believe it’s a hard thing to do.”

© Copyright 2018 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Facebook Ends Forced Arbitration of Sexual Misconduct Claims

MENLO PARK (CBS/AP) — Facebook is dropping a requirement for mandatory arbitration of sexual misconduct allegations, acceding to a demand recently pressed by other Silicon Valley tech workers.

Google made a similar change on Thursday, a week after thousands of employees briefly walked off their jobs to protest how the company handled sexual-misconduct allegations against prominent executives.

The move at Facebook means that employees no longer have to submit to private arbitration, which kept misconduct allegations secret and sometimes allowed abusers to continue their behavior.

Employees can now press their claims in court instead. Other tech companies such as Microsoft and Uber have previously dropped mandatory arbitration.

Facebook will now also require executives at director level and above to disclose any dating relationships with company employees.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report

Adams County Sheriff’s Sergeant Calls Colorado Voters ‘F—ing Stupid’

By Brian Maass

BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – In a blistering social media post, Sgt. Jim Morgen, the public information officer for the Adams County Sheriff’s office wrote, “Colorado voters are f—-g stupid” and referred to the incoming sheriff as a “complete dumb ass.”

jim morgen Adams County Sheriffs Sergeant Calls Colorado Voters F   ing Stupid

Sgt. Jim Morgen (credit: CBS)

Morgen posted the comments via Facebook following Tuesday’s election. Morgen works for current Sheriff Mike McIntosh, a Republican, who was upset in Tuesday’s election by Democrat challenger Rick Reigenborn.

police climate transfer frame 1147 Adams County Sheriffs Sergeant Calls Colorado Voters F   ing Stupid

Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh (credit: CBS)

Reigenborn tallied 51.3% of the vote to Mcintosh’s 48.6%. The two were separated by 4,100 votes.

In the post to a friend’s Facebook page emanating from his Facebook account, Sgt. Morgen wrote ”I’m so disgusted with Colorado and specifically Adams county voters that could only see a d. It makes me completely sick that some complete dumb ass will win as sheriff with no ability only and I mean only because he has a d in front of his name.” Morgen went on to write, ”23 years of service down the drain with only retiring as an option.”

Reigenborn served with the Adams County Sheriff’s office from 1991 until 2015. He currently is a detective with the Mountain View Police Department.

Contacted Thursday by CBS4, Reigenborn said he had seen Morgen’s post calling it “sour grapes. I think it was a poor decision on his part. I hope it was done in a drunken stupor. Its his opinion but it’s a weak opinion,” said Reigenborn. He said he was more bothered by what Morgen said about the community than the direct shots taken at him.

Reigenborn said he only spent about $8,000 on his campaign and was “very surprised” to win. He agreed that “The Trump factor was part of it.”

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Sgt. Morgen simultaneously said he would not “confirm or deny” that he had written the post but then suggested it was intended as a private communication on Facebook.

“You have no proof I wrote it,” said Morgen. In the next breath, he said it was meant for “people it was sent to.” He said the post was “meant for a friend.. it was sent privately. This post was meant from one person to another. As a private citizen I have a right to say what I want.”

Although he didn’t deny writing it and refused to confirm or deny ownership of the post, Morgen went on to say the post was not written at work but was written “at home and was meant for a friend. It wasn’t meant for general consumption. How it got disseminated to you I have no idea how that happened.”

In two phone conversations, Morgen reiterated the opinions that appeared in the Facebook post.

He said he was concerned that publicizing his opinions might lead to blowback from “left wing moonbats.” Morgen called the election of Reigenborn “The most disgusting outrage I have ever seen,” and attributed it to anti–Trump backlash.

Adams County Sheriff Mike Mcintosh had not seen the post until he was contacted by CBS4.

After reviewing it, he said, ”It was boneheaded on his part. He was not representing us in any way but does have a title with the Sheriff’s Office. This was inappropriate.”

Mcintosh said Morgen, ”Ought to know better. What bothers me most is the comments about the voters and about Rick. That doesn’t represent us well”. Although he said he did not believe Morgen had violated any department rules and regulations, he called what Morgen did “very poor judgment… very upsetting.”

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

Facebook Blocks 115 Accounts Ahead Of U.S. Midterm Elections

LONDON (AP) — Facebook said it blocked 115 accounts for suspected “coordinated inauthentic behavior” linked to foreign groups attempting to interfere in Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections.

The social media company shut down 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts and is investigating them in more detail, it said in a blog post late Monday.

Facebook acted after being tipped off Sunday by U.S. law enforcement officials. Authorities notified the company about recently discovered online activity “they believe may be linked to foreign entities,” Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, wrote in the post .

U.S. tech companies have stepped up their work against disinformation campaigns, aiming to stymie online troublemakers’ efforts to divide voters and discredit democracy. Facebook’s purge is part of countermeasures to prevent abuses like those used by Russian groups two years ago to sway public opinion ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The company based in Menlo Park, California, has been somewhat regularly disclosing such purges in recent months, most recently in October. More are likely going forward since, even as its systems get better at detecting and removing malicious accounts, the bad actors are sharpening their attacks too.

Gleicher said Facebook will provide an update once it learns more, including whether the blocked accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, or other foreign entities.

Almost all of the Facebook pages associated with the blocked accounts appeared to be in French or Russian. The Instagram accounts were mostly in English and were focused either on celebrities or political debate. No further details were given about the accounts or suspicious activity.

Last month, Facebook removed 82 pages, accounts and groups tied to Iran and aimed at stirring up strife in the U.S. and the U.K. It carried out an even broader sweep in August, removing 652 pages, groups and accounts linked to Russia and Iran.

Twitter, meanwhile, has said it has identified more than 4,600 accounts and 10 million tweets, mostly affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, which was linked to foreign meddling in U.S. elections, including the presidential vote of 2016. The agency, a Russian troll farm, has been indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller for its actions during the 2016 vote.

Facebook, Twitter and other companies have been fighting misinformation and election meddling on their services for the past two years . There are signs they’re making headway, although they’re still a very long way from winning the war.

Facebook, in particular, has reversed its stance of late 2016, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “pretty crazy” the notion that fake news on his service could have swayed the presidential election.

In July, for instance, the company said that its spending on security and content moderation, coupled with other business shifts, would hinder its growth and profitability. Investors expressed their displeasure by knocking $119 billion off Facebook’s market value.

One problem is that it’s not just agents from Russia and other nations who are intent on sharing misinformation and propaganda. There is plenty of homegrown fake news too, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere.

Still, Facebook is seeing some payoff, and not just with the accounts it has been able to find and take down. A recent research collaboration between New York University and Stanford found that user “interactions” with fake news stories on Facebook, which rose substantially in 2016 during the presidential campaign, fell significantly between the end of 2016 and July 2018. On Twitter, however, the sharing of such stories continued to rise over the past two years.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Facebook Takes Down 115 Accounts Possibly Linked to Russia Hours Before Polls Open

Facebook has taken down another 115 accounts likely linked to foreign powers just hours before the opening of the U.S. midterm election polls. The social networking giant disclosed Monday night that it had acted on a tip from U.S. law enforcement. “Our very early-stage investigation has so far identified around 30 Facebook accounts and 85 […]