Facebook Announces Independent Probe Into Social Media’s Impact on Elections

Facebook is backing an independent research group tasked with looking into the “effects of social media on elections and democracy,” the company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced on Monday.

With an eye to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections — as well as several key elections around the globe — the committee of leading academics will study how the social network can tackle the spread of misinformation.

“We’ll give those researchers access to our resources so they can draw unbiased conclusions about Facebook’s role in elections, including how we’re handling the risks on our platform and what steps we need to take before future elections,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post. “They’ll share their work publicly, and we won’t require our approval to publish.”

Also Read: Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Dumps Facebook

It’s the latest in a string of new initiatives put in place by the social network, as the company deals with the fallout of both a massive data leak, as well as the lingering impact of Russian troll accounts on the 2016 U.S. election. Facebook booted hundreds of Kremlin-tied accounts last week, and implemented a verification process for political advertisers last week.

The commission comes as Zuckerberg prepares to testify in front of Congress on the Cambridge Analytica data leak, during which up to 87 million users had their information unknowingly accessed.

The independent research group is being funded by several well-known nonprofits: the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Facebook head honcho pointed to the 2016 U.S. election, where more than 100 million Americans were hit by Russian troll ads, as a wakeup call.

Also Read: Kremlin Cries ‘Censorship’ Over Facebook’s Purge of Russian ‘Troll Factory’

“Looking back, it’s clear we were too slow identifying election interference in 2016, and we need to do better in future elections,” said Zuckerberg. “This is a new model of collaboration between researchers and companies, and it’s part of our commitment to protect the integrity of elections around the world.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Mark Zuckerberg Can Delete Old Facebook Messages, but You Can’t

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Says He Won’t Resign Despite ‘Mess Up’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress About Data Breach Next Week

Facebook is backing an independent research group tasked with looking into the “effects of social media on elections and democracy,” the company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced on Monday.

With an eye to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections — as well as several key elections around the globe — the committee of leading academics will study how the social network can tackle the spread of misinformation.

“We’ll give those researchers access to our resources so they can draw unbiased conclusions about Facebook’s role in elections, including how we’re handling the risks on our platform and what steps we need to take before future elections,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post. “They’ll share their work publicly, and we won’t require our approval to publish.”

It’s the latest in a string of new initiatives put in place by the social network, as the company deals with the fallout of both a massive data leak, as well as the lingering impact of Russian troll accounts on the 2016 U.S. election. Facebook booted hundreds of Kremlin-tied accounts last week, and implemented a verification process for political advertisers last week.

The commission comes as Zuckerberg prepares to testify in front of Congress on the Cambridge Analytica data leak, during which up to 87 million users had their information unknowingly accessed.

The independent research group is being funded by several well-known nonprofits: the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Facebook head honcho pointed to the 2016 U.S. election, where more than 100 million Americans were hit by Russian troll ads, as a wakeup call.

“Looking back, it’s clear we were too slow identifying election interference in 2016, and we need to do better in future elections,” said Zuckerberg. “This is a new model of collaboration between researchers and companies, and it’s part of our commitment to protect the integrity of elections around the world.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Mark Zuckerberg Can Delete Old Facebook Messages, but You Can't

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Says He Won't Resign Despite 'Mess Up'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Testify Before Congress About Data Breach Next Week

‘Silicon Valley’ Clowns Facebook for Russian Troll Scandal

Everyone is lining up to take their shot at Facebook — and that’s including the HBO comedy, “Silicon Valley.”

The series returned on Sunday night with a new twist to its intro, with the Facebook logo briefly converting to Russian. Several eagle-eyed viewers spotted the diss — you can check it out below:

HBO’s Silicon Valley throwing some subtle shade Facebook’s way on the Season 5 premiere. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/JoDeOo7BBH

— Ryan McCaffrey (@DMC_Ryan) March 26, 2018

Also Read: ‘Silicon Valley’ Star Thomas Middleditch Calls Aziz Ansari Accusation ‘Absurd,’ Doesn’t Defend TJ Miller

“Silicon Valley” appears to be taking a dig at Facebook’s PR fiasco, where Kremlin-linked trolls leveraged the social network to target voters during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially brushed the issue aside, saying it was “crazy” to think it played an important role in the road to the White House.

Zuckerberg’s tune changed, however, last fall, after Facebook told Congress more than 100 million users had been hit by Russian propaganda. The 33-year-old chief exec said he was “dead serious” about the issue, adding, “protecting our community is more important than maximizing profits.” In the aftermath, Facebook added content moderators and tools to check whether users had been following pages with Russian backers.

On a lighter note, if you wanted to read how much Richard, Dinesh, Jared and Gilfoyle will be spending on rent for Pied Piper 2.0 this season, check out our episode “fact check” here.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Facebook Probed by Federal Trade Commission, Stock Tanks 6 Percent

Elon Musk Joins #DeleteFacebook Movement, Erases Tesla and SpaceX Pages

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg: ‘We Definitely Didn’t Realize the Gravity’ of User Data Leak

Everyone is lining up to take their shot at Facebook — and that’s including the HBO comedy, “Silicon Valley.”

The series returned on Sunday night with a new twist to its intro, with the Facebook logo briefly converting to Russian. Several eagle-eyed viewers spotted the diss — you can check it out below:

“Silicon Valley” appears to be taking a dig at Facebook’s PR fiasco, where Kremlin-linked trolls leveraged the social network to target voters during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially brushed the issue aside, saying it was “crazy” to think it played an important role in the road to the White House.

Zuckerberg’s tune changed, however, last fall, after Facebook told Congress more than 100 million users had been hit by Russian propaganda. The 33-year-old chief exec said he was “dead serious” about the issue, adding, “protecting our community is more important than maximizing profits.” In the aftermath, Facebook added content moderators and tools to check whether users had been following pages with Russian backers.

On a lighter note, if you wanted to read how much Richard, Dinesh, Jared and Gilfoyle will be spending on rent for Pied Piper 2.0 this season, check out our episode “fact check” here.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Facebook Probed by Federal Trade Commission, Stock Tanks 6 Percent

Elon Musk Joins #DeleteFacebook Movement, Erases Tesla and SpaceX Pages

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg: 'We Definitely Didn't Realize the Gravity' of User Data Leak

Watch Trump’s Birthday Message to the Pop Star Who Set Up Trump Jr.’s Russia Meeting (Video)

Donald Trump is so chummy with the Russian pop star who reportedly set up a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer that he once sent him a birthday greeting praising the singer, Emin Agalarov, as a “winner” and “champ.”

Music publicist Rob Goldstone says he set up the meeting on behalf of Agalarov, a real-estate heir Trump knew from Miss Universe pageants. Trump recorded a birthday message for him in 2014, when he turned 35. He called the birthday boy “a winner,” adding, “you’re a champ, you’re great at real estate, and boy can you entertain.”

No one is calling the video any kind of smoking gun. It’s just an interesting insight into Trump’s relationship with the pop star, and may explain why his son took the meeting.

The day after Trump won the election, Emin sent a video back: “I never doubted you for one second,” he said, pointing out a bobble head of Trump on his desk. “You’re an absolute winner, you proved everybody wrong.”

Agalarov is the son to Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov, who was awarded the “Order of Order” by Vladimir Putin. According to the Agalarov’s business website, the Crocus Group, the award is meant for “prominent leaders of science, culture, art, industry, healthcare and education, diplomats and law-enforcement officers and entrepreneurs who have demonstrated high performance and social responsibility standards.”

The Agalarovs met Trump at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013; the businessmen lobbied for Russia’s capital to be the location of the event.

Trump was featured alongside Miss Universe contestants in Emin’s “In Another Life” music video from 2013, doing his “You’re fired” schtick from “The Apprentice.”

Also Read: Donald Trump Jr Email on Russian Offer of Hillary Clinton Dirt: ‘I Love It’

The Agalarovs were part of Trump’s desire to build a Trump Tower in Moscow that never materialized. “We thought that building a Trump Tower next to an Agalarov tower–having the two big names–could be a really cool project to execute,” Emin said in a March interview with Forbes. “He ran for president, so we dropped the idea. But if he hadn’t run we would probably be in the construction phase today.”

Also Read: Donald Trump Jr’s Russia Meeting: Here Are the Top 5 Media Reactions

The relationship between Trump and the Agalarovs seems to be strong as ever, which might be why Emin asked his publicist to contact Trump, Jr, regarding help on the campaign. “He will give you extra attention if he likes you,” Emin said in that same Forbes interview. “Anything Trump related I would be interested to pursue. I think today the Trump brand is stronger all over the world. And him being the president; I mean, it’s a big brand now.”

Goldstone mentions both Agalarovs in his emails to Trump, Jr. “Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Goldstone wrote in the now infamous emails — which Trump, Jr. posted on his Twitter account Tuesday after the New York Times reported on them.

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” the email continues. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.”

Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators will be looking at the meeting and the emails as part of the broader probe into possible Russian collusion within the Trump campaign, as CNN reports.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Donald Trump Jr: Dad Didn’t Know About ‘Nothing’ Meeting With Russian Lawyer

Donald Trump Jr’s Russia Meeting: Here Are the Top 5 Media Reactions

Donald Trump Jr Email on Russian Offer of Hillary Clinton Dirt: ‘I Love It’

Donald Trump Jr Blasts Media, Democrats for ‘Nonsense’ Russia Meeting Story

Donald Trump is so chummy with the Russian pop star who reportedly set up a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer that he once sent him a birthday greeting praising the singer, Emin Agalarov, as a “winner” and “champ.”

Music publicist Rob Goldstone says he set up the meeting on behalf of Agalarov, a real-estate heir Trump knew from Miss Universe pageants. Trump recorded a birthday message for him in 2014, when he turned 35. He called the birthday boy “a winner,” adding, “you’re a champ, you’re great at real estate, and boy can you entertain.”

No one is calling the video any kind of smoking gun. It’s just an interesting insight into Trump’s relationship with the pop star, and may explain why his son took the meeting.

The day after Trump won the election, Emin sent a video back: “I never doubted you for one second,” he said, pointing out a bobble head of Trump on his desk. “You’re an absolute winner, you proved everybody wrong.”

Agalarov is the son to Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov, who was awarded the “Order of Order” by Vladimir Putin. According to the Agalarov’s business website, the Crocus Group, the award is meant for “prominent leaders of science, culture, art, industry, healthcare and education, diplomats and law-enforcement officers and entrepreneurs who have demonstrated high performance and social responsibility standards.”

The Agalarovs met Trump at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013; the businessmen lobbied for Russia’s capital to be the location of the event.

Trump was featured alongside Miss Universe contestants in Emin’s “In Another Life” music video from 2013, doing his “You’re fired” schtick from “The Apprentice.”

The Agalarovs were part of Trump’s desire to build a Trump Tower in Moscow that never materialized. “We thought that building a Trump Tower next to an Agalarov tower–having the two big names–could be a really cool project to execute,” Emin said in a March interview with Forbes. “He ran for president, so we dropped the idea. But if he hadn’t run we would probably be in the construction phase today.”

The relationship between Trump and the Agalarovs seems to be strong as ever, which might be why Emin asked his publicist to contact Trump, Jr, regarding help on the campaign. “He will give you extra attention if he likes you,” Emin said in that same Forbes interview. “Anything Trump related I would be interested to pursue. I think today the Trump brand is stronger all over the world. And him being the president; I mean, it’s a big brand now.”

Goldstone mentions both Agalarovs in his emails to Trump, Jr. “Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Goldstone wrote in the now infamous emails — which Trump, Jr. posted on his Twitter account Tuesday after the New York Times reported on them.

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” the email continues. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.”

Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators will be looking at the meeting and the emails as part of the broader probe into possible Russian collusion within the Trump campaign, as CNN reports.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Donald Trump Jr: Dad Didn't Know About 'Nothing' Meeting With Russian Lawyer

Donald Trump Jr's Russia Meeting: Here Are the Top 5 Media Reactions

Donald Trump Jr Email on Russian Offer of Hillary Clinton Dirt: 'I Love It'

Donald Trump Jr Blasts Media, Democrats for 'Nonsense' Russia Meeting Story

Kremlin Says Putin CNN Documentary Is “Hysterical” & “Often Complete Fiction”

The Kremlin has slammed CNN‘s recent documentary on Russian president Vladimir Putin as “hysterical” and “odious,” likening it to “complete fiction.”
Putin was the subject of Fareed Zakaria’s doc The Most Powerful Man in the World, which aired on Monday night and Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told news agency RIA Novosti that it was an “emotional report” that wasn’t supported by facts or substance.
“Vladimir [Putin] has not seen the film as it came out overnight,” he told…

The Kremlin has slammed CNN's recent documentary on Russian president Vladimir Putin as "hysterical" and "odious," likening it to “complete fiction.” Putin was the subject of Fareed Zakaria's doc The Most Powerful Man in the World, which aired on Monday night and Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told news agency RIA Novosti that it was an "emotional report" that wasn't supported by facts or substance. "Vladimir [Putin] has not seen the film as it came out overnight," he told…