- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Facebook’s vice president of advertising has apologized to colleagues for his comments about Russian election meddling that were retweeted by President Trump over the weekend, Wired reported.

“I wanted to apologize for having tweeted my own view about Russian interference without having it reviewed by anyone internally. The tweets were my own personal view and not Facebook‘s. I conveyed my view poorly,” Rob Goldman wrote Monday in a message shared internally at Facebook, Wired reported.

“The Special Counsel has far more information about what happened [than] I do — so seeming to contradict his statements was a serious mistake on my part,” Mr. Goldman wrote, according to Wired.

Mr. Goldman made waves over the weekend for tweets he wrote Friday after special counsel Robert Mueller’s office unsealed an indictment charging 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by purchasing advertisements on Facebook, among other means, to meddle in the 2016 presidential race.

“I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal,” Mr. Goldman tweeted Friday.

“The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Trump and the election,” Mr. Goldman added.

A fervent critic of Mr. Mueller’s probe, Mr. Trump pounced on Mr. Goldman’s initial claims and echoed them from his own Twitter account over the weekend.

“The Fake News Media never fails. Hard to ignore this fact from the Vice President of Facebook Ads, Rob Goldman!” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday to his nearly 50 million Twitter followers.

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, subsequently issued an official statement Sunday, writing: “Nothing we found contradicts the Special Counsel’s indictments. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.”

Facebook previously acknowledged that accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a so-called “troll farm” at the center of Friday’s indictment, created content seen by about 126 million Americans between 2015 and 2017, including roughly 3,000 paid ads.

Defendants named in the indictment unsealed Friday, including accused Internet Research Agency employees, “allegedly posed as U.S. persons, created false U.S. personas and operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences,” according to the Justice Department.

“The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in announcing the charges against them.

Federal prosecutors mentioned Facebook by name 35 times in the 37-page indictment, Wired noted.

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