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Westlake Legal Group > Rumors and Misinformation

Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads

Westlake Legal Group merlin_163177695_a8bcff7f-50cb-4cb9-b101-3862aadda7ac-facebookJumbo Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads Zuckerberg, Mark E United States Politics and Government Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Political Advertising Online Advertising Freedom of Speech and Expression Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — The letter was aimed at Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his top lieutenants. It decried the social network’s recent decision to let politicians post any claims they wanted — even false ones — in ads on the site. It asked Facebook’s leaders to rethink the stance.

Facebook’s position on political advertising is “a threat to what FB stands for,” said the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “We strongly object to this policy as it stands.”

The message was written by Facebook’s own employees. For the past two weeks, the text has been publicly visible on Facebook Workplace, a software program that the Silicon Valley company uses to communicate internally. More than 250 employees have signed the letter, according to three people who have seen it and who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation.

While the number of signatures on the letter was a fraction of Facebook’s 35,000-plus work force, it was one sign of the resistance that the company is now facing internally over how it treats political ads.

Many employees have been discussing Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision to let politicians post anything they want in Facebook ads because those ads can go viral and spread misinformation widely. The worker dissatisfaction has spilled out across winding, heated threads on Facebook Workplace, the people said.

For weeks, Facebook has been under attack by presidential candidates, lawmakers and civil rights groups over its position on political ads. But the employee actions — which are a rare moment of internal strife for the company — show that even some of its own workers are not convinced the political ads policy is sound. The dissent is adding to Facebook’s woes as it heads into the 2020 presidential election season.

“Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” Bertie Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

Facebook has been struggling to respond to misinformation on its site since the 2016 presidential election, when Russians used the social network to spread inflammatory and divisive messages to influence the American electorate. Mr. Zuckerberg has since appointed tens of thousands of people to work on platform security and to deter coordinated disinformation efforts.

But figuring out what is and isn’t allowed on the social network is slippery. And last month, Facebook announced that politicians and their campaigns would have nearly free rein over content they post there. Previously, the company had prohibited the use of paid political ads that “include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers.”

This month, President Trump’s campaign began circulating an ad on Facebook that made false claims about former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is running for president. When Mr. Biden’s campaign asked Facebook to remove the ad, the company refused, saying ads from politicians were newsworthy and important for discourse.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts who is also running for president, soon took Facebook to task. She bought a political ad on Facebook that falsely claimed Mr. Zuckerberg and his company supported Mr. Trump for president. (Neither Mr. Zuckerberg nor Facebook have endorsed a political candidate.)

Ms. Warren said she wanted to see how far she could take it on the site. Mr. Zuckerberg had turned his company into a “disinformation-for-profit machine,” she said.

But Mr. Zuckerberg doubled down. In a 5,000-word speech to students at Georgetown University in Washington this month, the chief executive defended his treatment of political ads by citing freedom of expression. He said Facebook’s policies would be seen positively in the long run, especially when compared with policies in countries like China, where the government suppresses online speech.

“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” Mr. Zuckerberg said at the time.

Mr. Zuckerberg also said Facebook’s policies were largely in line with what other social networks — like YouTube and Twitter — and most television broadcasters had decided to run on their networks. Federal law mandates that broadcast networks cannot censor political ads from candidates running for office.

Inside Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision to be hands-off on political ads has supporters. But dissenters said Facebook was not doing enough to check the lies from spreading across the platform.

While internal debate is not uncommon at the social network, it historically has seen less internal turmoil than other tech companies because of a strong sense of mission among its rank and file workers.

That has set it apart from Google and Amazon, which for the last few years have grappled with several employee uprisings. Most notably, 20,000 Google workers walked off the job in 2018 to protest the company’s massive payouts to executives accused of sexual harassment.

Last week, Google employees again challenged management over new software that some staff said was a surveillance tool to keep tabs on workplace dissent. At an employee meeting on Thursday, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said he was working on ways to improve trust with employees, while acknowledging it was challenging to maintain transparency as the company grows. A video of Mr. Pichai’s comments was leaked to The Washington Post.

Amazon has faced employee pressure for nearly a year to do more to address the company’s impact on climate change. Some employees worked on a shareholder resolution to push the company on the matter, and more than 7,500 Amazon workers publicly signed a letter to support the proposal. In September, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, announced the company was accelerating its climate goals, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040.

In the Facebook employee letter to Mr. Zuckerberg and other executives, the workers said the policy change on political advertising “doesn’t protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.”

It added, “We want to work with our leadership to develop better solutions that both protect our business and the people who use our products.”

The letter then laid out product changes and other actions that Facebook could take to reduce the harm from false claims in advertising from politicians. Among the proposals: Changing the visual design treatment for political ads, restricting some of the options for targeting users with those ads, and instituting spending caps for individual politicians.

“This is still our company,” the letter concluded.

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Karen Weise contributed reporting from Seattle.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook Finds New Disinformation Campaigns and Braces for 2020 Torrent

Westlake Legal Group 00facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook Finds New Disinformation Campaigns and Braces for 2020 Torrent Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Monday said it had found and taken down four state-backed disinformation campaigns, the latest of dozens the company has identified and removed this year.

Three of the campaigns originated in Iran, and one in Russia, Facebook said, with state-backed actors disguised as genuine users. Their posts targeted people in North Africa, Latin America and the United States, the company said.

At the same time, the social network unveiled several new initiatives to reduce the spread of false information across its services, including an effort to clearly label some inaccurate posts that appear on the site.

The moves suggest that while Facebook is amping up its protections ahead of the 2020 United States presidential election, malicious actors wanting to shape public discourse show no signs of going away.

“Elections have changed significantly since 2016, but Facebook has changed too,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said in a conference call. “We face increasingly sophisticated attacks from nation-states like Russia, Iran and China, but I’m confident we’re more prepared.”

Facebook, by far the world’s largest social network, faces a near-daily torrent of criticism from American presidential candidates, the public, the press and regulators around the world, many of whom argue that the company is unable to properly corral its outsize power.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, recently accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine.” The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are conducting investigations into Facebook’s market power and history of technology acquisitions.

Facebook generally takes a hands-off approach toward users sharing false or inaccurate information on the site. Last week, Mr. Zuckerberg delivered a robust defense of the company’s policies, including users and politicians’ ability to publish inaccurate posts. He said that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice.

Yet even as Facebook has advocated free speech, it has been unable to stem the disinformation that people post on its site. On Monday, the company said the disinformation campaigns it removed included content that touched on conflict in the Middle East, racial strife and posts involving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York. The posts crossed categories and ideological lines, seemingly with no specific intent other than to foment discord among citizens in multiple countries.

Mr. Zuckerberg said that over the past three years, Facebook has become better able to seek out and remove foreign influence networks, relying on a team of former intelligence officials, digital forensics experts and investigative journalists. Facebook has more than 35,000 people working on its security initiatives, with an annual budget well into the billions of dollars.

But as Facebook has honed its skills, so have its adversaries, he said. He added that there has been an escalation of sophisticated attacks coming from Iran and China — beyond the initial disinformation campaigns from Russia in 2016 — suggesting that the practice has only grown more popular over the past few years. A cottage industry of companies has also sprung up, he said, selling disinformation services targeted to Facebook to governments and other bad actors.

While the company does not want to be an arbiter of what speech is allowed on its site, Facebook said it wanted to be more transparent about where the speech is coming from. To that end, it will now apply labels to pages considered state-sponsored media — including outlets like Russia Today — to inform people whether the outlets are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their country’s government. The company will also apply the labels to the outlet’s Facebook Page, as well as make the label visible inside of the social network’s advertising library.

“We will hold these Pages to a higher standard of transparency because they combine the opinion-making influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The company said it developed its definition of state-sponsored media with input from more than 40 outside global organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, the European Journalism Center, Unesco and the Center for Media, Data and Society.

The company will also more prominently label posts on Facebook and on its Instagram app that have been deemed partly or wholly false by outside fact-checking organizations. Facebook said the change was meant to help people better determine what they should read, trust and share. The label will be displayed prominently on top of photos and videos that appear in the news feed, as well as across Instagram stories.

It may be difficult to determine how much of a difference the new, more aggressive labels will make. Home to more than 2.7 billion regular users, Facebook and Instagram see billions of pieces of content shared to their respective networks daily. Fact-checked news and posts represent a fraction of that content. A wealth of information is also spread privately across Facebook’s messaging services like WhatsApp and Messenger, two conduits that have been identified as prime channels for spreading misinformation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook Finds New Disinformation Campaigns and Braces for 2020 Torrent

Westlake Legal Group 00facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook Finds New Disinformation Campaigns and Braces for 2020 Torrent Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Monday said it had found and taken down four state-backed disinformation campaigns, the latest of dozens the company has identified and removed this year.

Three of the campaigns originated in Iran, and one in Russia, Facebook said, with state-backed actors disguised as genuine users. Their posts targeted people in North Africa, Latin America and the United States, the company said.

At the same time, the social network unveiled several new initiatives to reduce the spread of false information across its services, including an effort to clearly label some inaccurate posts that appear on the site.

The moves suggest that while Facebook is amping up its protections ahead of the 2020 United States presidential election, malicious actors wanting to shape public discourse show no signs of going away.

“Elections have changed significantly since 2016, but Facebook has changed too,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said in a conference call. “We face increasingly sophisticated attacks from nation-states like Russia, Iran and China, but I’m confident we’re more prepared.”

Facebook, by far the world’s largest social network, faces a near-daily torrent of criticism from American presidential candidates, the public, the press and regulators around the world, many of whom argue that the company is unable to properly corral its outsize power.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, recently accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine.” The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are conducting investigations into Facebook’s market power and history of technology acquisitions.

Facebook generally takes a hands-off approach toward users sharing false or inaccurate information on the site. Last week, Mr. Zuckerberg delivered a robust defense of the company’s policies, including users and politicians’ ability to publish inaccurate posts. He said that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice.

Yet even as Facebook has advocated free speech, it has been unable to stem the disinformation that people post on its site. On Monday, the company said the disinformation campaigns it removed included content that touched on conflict in the Middle East, racial strife and posts involving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York. The posts crossed categories and ideological lines, seemingly with no specific intent other than to foment discord among citizens in multiple countries.

Mr. Zuckerberg said that over the past three years, Facebook has become better able to seek out and remove foreign influence networks, relying on a team of former intelligence officials, digital forensics experts and investigative journalists. Facebook has more than 35,000 people working on its security initiatives, with an annual budget well into the billions of dollars.

But as Facebook has honed its skills, so have its adversaries, he said. He added that there has been an escalation of sophisticated attacks coming from Iran and China — beyond the initial disinformation campaigns from Russia in 2016 — suggesting that the practice has only grown more popular over the past few years. A cottage industry of companies has also sprung up, he said, selling disinformation services targeted to Facebook to governments and other bad actors.

While the company does not want to be an arbiter of what speech is allowed on its site, Facebook said it wanted to be more transparent about where the speech is coming from. To that end, it will now apply labels to pages considered state-sponsored media — including outlets like Russia Today — to inform people whether the outlets are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their country’s government. The company will also apply the labels to the outlet’s Facebook Page, as well as make the label visible inside of the social network’s advertising library.

“We will hold these Pages to a higher standard of transparency because they combine the opinion-making influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The company said it developed its definition of state-sponsored media with input from more than 40 outside global organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, the European Journalism Center, Unesco and the Center for Media, Data and Society.

The company will also more prominently label posts on Facebook and on its Instagram app that have been deemed partly or wholly false by outside fact-checking organizations. Facebook said the change was meant to help people better determine what they should read, trust and share. The label will be displayed prominently on top of photos and videos that appear in the news feed, as well as across Instagram stories.

It may be difficult to determine how much of a difference the new, more aggressive labels will make. Home to more than 2.7 billion regular users, Facebook and Instagram see billions of pieces of content shared to their respective networks daily. Fact-checked news and posts represent a fraction of that content. A wealth of information is also spread privately across Facebook’s messaging services like WhatsApp and Messenger, two conduits that have been identified as prime channels for spreading misinformation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook Discloses New Disinformation Campaigns From Russia and Iran

Westlake Legal Group 00facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook Discloses New Disinformation Campaigns From Russia and Iran Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Monday said it had found and taken down four state-backed disinformation campaigns, the latest of dozens the company has identified and removed this year.

Three of the campaigns originated in Iran, and one in Russia, Facebook said, with state-backed actors disguised as genuine users. Their posts targeted people in North Africa, Latin America and the United States, the company said.

At the same time, the social network unveiled several new initiatives to reduce the spread of false information across its services, including an effort to clearly label some inaccurate posts that appear on the site.

The moves suggest that while Facebook is amping up its protections ahead of the 2020 United States presidential election, malicious actors wanting to shape public discourse show no signs of going away.

Facebook, by far the world’s largest social network, faces a near-daily torrent of criticism from American presidential candidates, the public, the press and regulators around the world, many of whom argue that the company is unable to properly corral its outsize power.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, recently accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine.” The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are conducting investigations into Facebook’s market power and history of technology acquisitions.

Facebook generally takes a hands-off approach toward users sharing false or inaccurate information on the site. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, delivered a robust defense of the company’s policies, including users and politicians’ ability to publish inaccurate posts. He said that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice.

The company does not want to be the arbiter of what speech will be allowed on the platform, Facebook executives have said. But the people and accounts posting to the network, they said, should be clearly identifiable.

To that end, Facebook will now apply labels to pages considered state-sponsored media — including outlets like Russia Today — to inform people whether the outlets are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their country’s government. The company will also apply the labels to the outlet’s Facebook Page, as well as make the label visible inside of the social network’s advertising library.

“We will hold these Pages to a higher standard of transparency because they combine the opinion-making influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The company said it developed its definition of state-sponsored media with input from more than 40 outside global organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, the European Journalism Center, Unesco and the Center for Media, Data and Society.

The company will also more prominently label posts on Facebook and on its Instagram app that have been deemed partly or wholly false by outside fact-checking organizations. Facebook said the change was meant to help people better determine what they should read, trust and share. The label will be displayed prominently on top of photos and videos that appear in the news feed, as well as across Instagram stories.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook Discloses New Disinformation Campaigns From Russia and Iran

Westlake Legal Group 00facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook Discloses New Disinformation Campaigns From Russia and Iran Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Monday said it had found and taken down four state-backed disinformation campaigns, the latest of dozens the company has identified and removed this year.

Three of the campaigns originated in Iran, and one in Russia, Facebook said, with state-backed actors disguised as genuine users. Their posts targeted people in North Africa, Latin America and the United States, the company said.

At the same time, the social network unveiled several new initiatives to reduce the spread of false information across its services, including an effort to clearly label some inaccurate posts that appear on the site.

The moves suggest that while Facebook is amping up its protections ahead of the 2020 United States presidential election, malicious actors wanting to shape public discourse show no signs of going away.

Facebook, by far the world’s largest social network, faces a near-daily torrent of criticism from American presidential candidates, the public, the press and regulators around the world, many of whom argue that the company is unable to properly corral its outsize power.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, recently accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine.” The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are conducting investigations into Facebook’s market power and history of technology acquisitions.

Facebook generally takes a hands-off approach toward users sharing false or inaccurate information on the site. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, delivered a robust defense of the company’s policies, including users and politicians’ ability to publish inaccurate posts. He said that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice.

The company does not want to be the arbiter of what speech will be allowed on the platform, Facebook executives have said. But the people and accounts posting to the network, they said, should be clearly identifiable.

To that end, Facebook will now apply labels to pages considered state-sponsored media — including outlets like Russia Today — to inform people whether the outlets are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their country’s government. The company will also apply the labels to the outlet’s Facebook Page, as well as make the label visible inside of the social network’s advertising library.

“We will hold these Pages to a higher standard of transparency because they combine the opinion-making influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The company said it developed its definition of state-sponsored media with input from more than 40 outside global organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, the European Journalism Center, Unesco and the Center for Media, Data and Society.

The company will also more prominently label posts on Facebook and on its Instagram app that have been deemed partly or wholly false by outside fact-checking organizations. Facebook said the change was meant to help people better determine what they should read, trust and share. The label will be displayed prominently on top of photos and videos that appear in the news feed, as well as across Instagram stories.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook Discloses New Disinformation Campaigns From Russia and Iran

Westlake Legal Group 00facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook Discloses New Disinformation Campaigns From Russia and Iran Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Monday said it had found and taken down four state-backed disinformation campaigns, the latest of dozens the company has identified and removed this year.

Three of the campaigns originated in Iran, and one in Russia, Facebook said, with state-backed actors disguised as genuine users. Their posts targeted people in North Africa, Latin America and the United States, the company said.

At the same time, the social network unveiled several new initiatives to reduce the spread of false information across its services, including an effort to clearly label some inaccurate posts that appear on the site.

The moves suggest that while Facebook is amping up its protections ahead of the 2020 United States presidential election, malicious actors wanting to shape public discourse show no signs of going away.

Facebook, by far the world’s largest social network, faces a near-daily torrent of criticism from American presidential candidates, the public, the press and regulators around the world, many of whom argue that the company is unable to properly corral its outsize power.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, recently accused Facebook of being a “disinformation-for-profit machine.” The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are conducting investigations into Facebook’s market power and history of technology acquisitions.

Facebook generally takes a hands-off approach toward users sharing false or inaccurate information on the site. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, delivered a robust defense of the company’s policies, including users and politicians’ ability to publish inaccurate posts. He said that Facebook had been founded to give people a voice.

The company does not want to be the arbiter of what speech will be allowed on the platform, Facebook executives have said. But the people and accounts posting to the network, they said, should be clearly identifiable.

To that end, Facebook will now apply labels to pages considered state-sponsored media — including outlets like Russia Today — to inform people whether the outlets are wholly or partially under the editorial control of their country’s government. The company will also apply the labels to the outlet’s Facebook Page, as well as make the label visible inside of the social network’s advertising library.

“We will hold these Pages to a higher standard of transparency because they combine the opinion-making influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The company said it developed its definition of state-sponsored media with input from more than 40 outside global organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, the European Journalism Center, Unesco and the Center for Media, Data and Society.

The company will also more prominently label posts on Facebook and on its Instagram app that have been deemed partly or wholly false by outside fact-checking organizations. Facebook said the change was meant to help people better determine what they should read, trust and share. The label will be displayed prominently on top of photos and videos that appear in the news feed, as well as across Instagram stories.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Warren Dares Facebook With Intentionally False Political Ad

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162445950_8279f9c5-affd-4bca-ba9c-f116a8b65ac6-facebookJumbo Warren Dares Facebook With Intentionally False Political Ad Zuckerberg, Mark E Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Elections (US) Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Online Advertising Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Computer and Video Games

WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren is playing a game of dare with Facebook.

The Democratic presidential candidate bought a political ad on the social network this past week that purposefully includes false claims about Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and President Trump to goad the social network to remove misinformation in political ads ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The ad, placed on Facebook beginning Thursday, starts with Ms. Warren announcing “Breaking news.” The ad then goes on to say that Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg are backing the re-election of Trump. Neither Mr. Zuckerberg nor the Silicon Valley company has announced their support of a candidate.

“You’re probably shocked, and you might be thinking ‘how could this possibly be true?’ Well, it’s not,” Ms. Warren said in the ad.

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Ms. Warren said she had deliberately made an ad with lies because Facebook had previously allowed politicians to place ads with false claims. “We decided to see just how far it goes,” the senator from Massachusetts wrote, calling Facebook a “disinformation-for-profit machine” and adding that Mr. Zuckerberg should be held accountable.

Ms. Warren’s actions follow a brouhaha over Facebook and political ads in recent weeks. Mr. Trump’s campaign recently bought ads across social media that accused another Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph Biden, of corruption in Ukraine. That ad, viewed more than 5 million times on Facebook, falsely said that Mr. Biden offered $1 billion to Ukrainian officials to remove a prosecutor who was overseeing an investigation of a company associated with Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

This past week, the Biden campaign demanded that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take down the ad. Facebook refused, telling the Biden campaign that it would keep the Trump ad up because of its belief that statements by politicians add to important discourse and are newsworthy, even if they are false. Twitter and YouTube have also kept the ad online.

Ms. Warren’s false ads on Facebook are now set to escalate her growing feud with the world’s biggest social network.

Ms. Warren has turned into a vocal critic of tech companies and their power. She has called for behemoths like Facebook and Google to be broken up. In a leaked audio recording published this month of a meeting that Mr. Zuckerberg had with Facebook employees, he was heard saying that Facebook would sue if Ms. Warren were to enact the breakup plan as president. In response, Ms. Warren doubled down, saying that America needed to “fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”

This month, Ms. Warren’s campaign also sent an email seeking donations with the subject line “re: Mark Zuckerberg.” And at a rally in San Diego, as she talked about the power of huge corporations, she told the crowd, “Break them up. And yes, Mark Zuckerberg, I’m looking at you.”

For Facebook, the situation is tricky. The social media company has struggled in recent years with what to allow and disallow on its site, especially after revelations that Russian operatives used the platform during the 2016 presidential election to post disinformation to inflame the American electorate. Facebook has moved to clamp down on false content. Yet when the company removes or buries messages, ads, photos and videos, it is often called out for bias and censorship. Facebook has faced particular wrath from conservatives, who have said the social network intentionally suppresses what they say.

“Facebook believes political speech should be protected,” a spokesman for Facebook said on Saturday. “If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech.”

Ms. Warren declined to comment on Saturday beyond her Twitter thread and Facebook ads.

Truth in social media advertising is likely to become a bigger issue ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Zuckerberg is scheduled to speak about Facebook’s political speech policies this coming week at Georgetown University.

Presidential candidates have all been spending huge sums on ads on Facebook and other social media platforms to reach voters. Some campaigns have focused on advertising specifically on Facebook given its sheer size — it has more than 2.2 billion users worldwide — and the ability to spread ads and content cheaply and quickly across the platform.

Like her rivals for the Democratic nomination, Ms. Warren has spent a significant amount of money on Facebook advertising, which is a crucial way to reach potential grass-roots donors. Over all, her presidential campaign has spent more than $3.3 million on Facebook ads, according to numbers disclosed by the company.

Unlike the social media companies, some broadcast media outlets have refused to run the false Trump campaign ad that said Mr. Biden acted corruptly in Ukraine. CNN and NBCU, which declined to run the ad, said it violated their standards.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook’s Hands-Off Approach to Political Speech Gets Impeachment Test

Westlake Legal Group 00facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook’s Hands-Off Approach to Political Speech Gets Impeachment Test United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — The 30-second video ad released by the Trump campaign last week is grainy, and the narrator’s voice is foreboding. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., it says, offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid if the country pushed out the man investigating a company tied to Mr. Biden’s son.

Saying it made false accusations, CNN immediately refused to air the advertisement.

But Facebook did not, and on Tuesday, the social network rejected a request from Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign to take it down, foreshadowing a continuing fight over misinformation on the service during the 2020 election as well as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

In a letter to the Biden campaign, Facebook said the ad, which has been viewed five million times on the site, did not violate company policies. Last month, the social network, which has more than two billion users, announced that politicians and their campaigns had nearly free rein over content they post there.

Even false statements and misleading content in ads, the company has said, are an important part of the political conversation.

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” Facebook’s head of global elections policy, Katie Harbath, wrote in the letter to the Biden campaign.

The decision by the company illustrates its executives’ hardened resolve to stay out of the moderation of political speech, despite the use of the social network to spread discord and disinformation in the 2016 presidential campaign. On Tuesday, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a sobering report warning of fresh signs of interference by Russia and other foreign nations in the 2020 election.

The company’s position stands in contrast to CNN, which rejected two ads from the Trump campaign last week, including the one the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down. The cable channel said it rejected the ad because it “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets.”

Facebook has been dogged by accusations of censorship by conservative politicians, including President Trump, who argue that the Silicon Valley company gives greater attention to liberal points of views on the social network.

But by removing itself as the moderator of political content — including in paid ads on the site — Facebook has left itself open another avenue of criticism. In a series of tweets Monday evening, Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination, said Facebook allowed President Trump to spread false information widely, and called on the company to take down the attack ad against Mr. Biden, one of her top rivals.

“Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once because they were asleep at the wheel while Russia attacked our democracy — allowing fake, foreign accounts to run ad campaigns to influence our elections,” Ms. Warren wrote.

Facebook declined to comment.

The ad the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down, released by the Trump campaign on Sept. 27, starts with staticky shots of Mr. Biden meeting with Ukrainian officials during his time in the Obama administration.

“Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” a narrator says, using video from an event in which Mr. Biden mentions the money. “But when President Trump asks Ukraine to investigate corruption, the Democrats want to impeach him.”

The $1 billion figure was mentioned at an event in 2018 at the Council on Foreign Relations, in which Mr. Biden was talking about how the Obama administration tried to root out corruption in Ukraine. He said he had held back financial aid to push the country to make reforms.

There is no evidence that Mr. Biden, during his time as vice president, pushed for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor general to help his son Hunter Biden. The former vice president, along with other members of the Obama administration and other international leaders, pushed for the removal of the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because of accusations that he ignored corruption.

Days after the ad was broadcast on television and social networks the Biden campaign wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, asking to reject the ad. The video “spreads false, definitively debunked conspiracy theories regarding Vice President Joe Biden,” Greg Schultz, a Biden campaign manager, wrote to the Facebook leaders.

Mr. Schultz wrote that the vice president’s call for a new prosecutor in Ukraine’s investigation of a company was supported by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He included clippings from The Washington Post and Factcheck.org that debunked the claims of Mr. Biden’s motives of squashing the investigation to benefit his son.

After CNN rejected the ad last week, Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for Mr. Trump’s campaign, said that the ad was “entirely accurate and was reviewed by counsel.”

“CNN spends all day protecting Joe Biden in their programming,” Mr. Murtaugh wrote in a statement. “So it’s not surprising that they’re shielding him from truthful advertising, too.”

The Biden campaign also urged Fox News to reject the Trump campaign ad last week. But the cable channel declined to do so, saying that it was “not in the business of censoring ads from candidates on either sides of the aisle.”

The ad has also appeared on YouTube and Twitter. A spokesman for Twitter said on Tuesday that the ad complied with its policies. A YouTube official likewise said the ad complied with its policies.

T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for Mr. Biden, wrote in an email that “Donald Trump has demonstrated he will continue to subvert our democratic institutions for his own personal gain, but his shortcomings are no excuse for companies like Facebook to refuse to do the right thing.”

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How a Fringe Theory About Ukraine Took Root in the White House

Westlake Legal Group 03conspiracy-01-facebookJumbo How a Fringe Theory About Ukraine Took Root in the White House Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation Reddit Inc Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Giuliani, Rudolph W Federal Bureau of Investigation Facebook Inc Democratic Party democratic national committee Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Cyberwarfare and Defense CrowdStrike Inc Clinton, Hillary Rodham Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Atlantic Council 4chan

In an April 2017 interview with The Associated Press, President Trump suddenly began talking about the hack of the Democratic National Committee a year earlier, complaining that the F.B.I. had not physically examined the compromised server.

“They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based,” the president said.

“CrowdStrike?” the surprised reporter asked, referring to the California cybersecurity company that investigated how Russian government hackers had stolen and leaked Democratic emails, disrupting Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“That’s what I heard,” Mr. Trump resumed. “I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian; that’s what I heard.”

More than two years later, Mr. Trump was still holding on to this false conspiracy theory. In his July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, he summed it up in a sort of shorthand — at least according to the White House memorandum, labeled “not a verbatim transcript.”

“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people …,” the president said. It is unclear whether the ellipses indicate that words were omitted or that Mr. Trump’s voice was trailing off.

Then he added one novel detail: “The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

Now, Mr. Trump’s call for Ukraine to look into his CrowdStrike story forms the background to the House impeachment inquiry, which is focused on the second request he made: that Mr. Zelensky investigate Mr. Trump’s possible 2020 opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Trump has placed a concoction of disprovable claims, of the kind usually found on the fringes of the web, squarely in the middle of American politics and diplomacy.

The tale of the supposedly hidden server may have appealed to Mr. Trump because it undercut a well-established fact that he has resented and resisted for three years: The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election to help him win, an effort thoroughly documented by American intelligence agencies and amply supported by public evidence.

By contrast, there is no evidence to support the president’s vague suggestion that Ukraine, not Russia, might be responsible for the hacking, or that CrowdStrike somehow connived in it. But his alternate history has provided a psychological shield for the president against facts that he believes tarnish his electoral victory.

Mr. Trump has long called for better relations with Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia and brushed aside complaints about its conduct. So there is a certain symmetry to his suggestion that Ukraine, Russia’s opponent and the victim of its territorial grab, may somehow have framed Russia for the 2016 election activity.

“Ukraine is the perfect scapegoat for him, because it’s the enemy of Russia,” said Nina Jankowicz, a fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington who regularly visits Ukraine and is writing a book called “How to Lose the Information War.”

She noted that a number of Ukraine-linked stories, some of them distorted or exaggerated, have been pulled together by Mr. Trump’s supporters into a single narrative.

For example, there is the idea, promoted by the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Ukraine’s government actively sabotaged Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. A Ukrainian-American lawyer who consulted for the D.N.C. looked into the finances of Paul Manafort and spoke with Ukrainian embassy officials. But there appears to have been no organized Ukrainian government effort to intervene — certainly nothing comparable to the activities of Russian intelligence agencies ordered by Mr. Putin.

It is true that a Ukrainian legislator helped publicize documents on Mr. Manafort’s multimillion-dollar payments from a Ukrainian political party, leading to his resignation as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman. But the claim of Mr. Manafort’s wrongdoing turned out to be justified. He is now serving seven and a half years in prison for financial fraud and other crimes.

In May, Mr. Trump recalled the American ambassador to Kiev, Marie L. Yovanovitch, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016, telling others she was scheming against his administration. She has denied it.

And Mr. Trump has repeatedly charged that Mr. Biden, who handled Ukrainian affairs as vice president, tried to get a prosecutor fired for investigating a Ukrainian energy company that paid his son, Hunter, handsomely as a board member despite a lack of experience in Ukraine. In fact, multiple countries were pressing for the firing of the prosecutor, who they thought was turning a blind eye to corruption.

“Now it seems like all of these conspiracy theories are merging into one,” Ms. Jankowicz said. She studies disinformation, she said, but Mr. Trump produced one claim she’d never come across.

“I do this for a living, and I’d never heard anyone say the servers were in Ukraine,” she said.

Twitter removed a video posted by Mr. Trump that showed a meme of Nickelbacker’s lead singer, edited as an attack on Joe Biden.

In the 27 months between Mr. Trump’s two citations of the CrowdStrike-Ukraine conspiracy theory, it has survived despite many denials from CrowdStrike, the F.B.I. and people directly involved in the investigations. It has survived despite the fact that the D.N.C. put one of its hacked servers on display — not in Ukraine but in its Washington offices beside the filing cabinet pried open in 1972 by the Watergate burglars (and a photo of the two artifacts ran on The Times’s front page). It has survived despite the indictment prepared last year by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, laying out in extraordinary detail the actions of 12 named Russian military intelligence officers who hacked the D.N.C. and other election targets.

The speculation springs from what Mr. Trump has called a “big Dem scam” — the false notion that the F.B.I. never really investigated the D.N.C. hack. In fact, according to people directly involved, CrowdStrike was in regular contact with the bureau in spring 2016 as it examined dozens of servers used by both the D.N.C. and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

It is true, as Mr. Trump has often tweeted, that F.B.I. agents never took physical possession of the Democrats’ servers. But CrowdStrike supplied the F.B.I. with digital copies of the servers so that the bureau could assess the Russian malware infecting them. The Mueller investigation later confirmed CrowdStrike’s findings.

Still, the president has clung to the theory linking CrowdStrike, Ukraine and the D.N.C. servers despite the repeated efforts of his aides to dissuade him, Thomas Bossert, his former homeland security adviser, said on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “The D.N.C. server and that conspiracy theory has got to go,” he said. “If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”

To go in search of the roots of Mr. Trump’s CrowdStrike-Ukraine conspiracy theory is to travel the internet’s most peculiar provinces and the darkest threads on Twitter and Facebook. On 4chan and pro-Trump spaces on Reddit, on websites like ZeroHedge.com and Washington’s Blog, you can find plenty of speculation about evil manipulation by CrowdStrike and secret maneuvers by Ukrainians — often inflamed by Mr. Trump’s own statements.

Until the president’s statements, however, even internet speculation did not attribute CrowdStrike’s ownership to a rich Ukrainian or suggest that the D.N.C. servers were hidden in Ukraine.

George Eliason, an American journalist who lives in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists fought Ukrainian forces, has written extensively about what he considers to be a “coup attempt” against President Trump involving American and Ukrainian intelligence agencies and CrowdStrike. He said he did not know if his writings for obscure websites might have influenced the president.

“CrowdStrike and Ukrainian Intel are working hand in glove,” he wrote in an email. “Is Ukrainian Intelligence trying to invent a reason for the U.S. to take a hardline stance against Russia? Are they using CrowdStrike to carry this out?”

Mr. Eliason and other purveyors of Ukraine conspiracies often point to the Atlantic Council, a research group in Washington, as the locus of the schemes. The Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk has made donations to the council and serves on its international advisory board; Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s co-founder, who was born in Russia and came to the United States as a child, is an Atlantic Council senior fellow.

That connection seems slender, but it may be the origin of Mr. Trump’s association of a wealthy Ukrainian with CrowdStrike.

Pro-Trump media leaped last week to defend the president’s Ukraine theories. Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show that Mr. Trump’s “reference to CrowdStrike, mark my words, is momentous,” though he did not say why.

And Russian state news outlets are always ready to cheer on Mr. Trump’s efforts to point the blame for the 2016 hack away from Moscow. On Sept. 25, after the White House released its memo on the Zelensky call, Russia’s Sputnik news website ran a story supporting Mr. Trump’s remarks.

The Sputnik article cited Mr. Eliason’s writings and suggested that CrowdStrike might have framed Russia for the D.N.C. hack — if it occurred at all. It quoted a Twitter account called “The Last Refuge” declaring: “The D.N.C. servers were never hacked.”

All this mythmaking about the 2016 hack frustrates Robert Johnston, who was the lead investigator for CrowdStrike on the D.N.C. inquiry. Mr. Johnston, a former Marine and Cyber Command operator, said he could make no sense of Mr. Trump’s assertions.

“It doesn’t connect with anything in my experience,” he said. “I’d be interested in the president of Ukraine’s impression.”

Mr. Johnston, now chief executive of the cybersecurity company Adlumin, said he was weary of the conspiracies surrounding what he considered a straightforward conclusion. Having seen the digital fingerprints of Russian intelligence in earlier hacking cases, he felt there was little doubt about the identity of the perpetrators.

“I don’t know how you get to this point,” Mr. Johnston said of the fantasies Mr. Trump has promoted. “This is a story that just won’t die.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How a Fringe Theory About CrowdStrike Took Root in the White House

In an April 2017 interview with The Associated Press, President Trump suddenly began talking about the hack of the Democratic National Committee a year earlier, complaining that the F.B.I. had not physically examined the compromised server.

“They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based,” the president said.

“CrowdStrike?” the surprised reporter asked, referring to the California cybersecurity company that investigated how Russian government hackers had stolen and leaked Democratic emails, disrupting Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“That’s what I heard,” Mr. Trump resumed. “I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian; that’s what I heard.”

More than two years later, Mr. Trump was still holding on to this false conspiracy theory. In his July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, he summed it up in a sort of shorthand — at least according to the White House memorandum, labeled “not a verbatim transcript.”

“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people …,” the president said. It is unclear whether the ellipses indicate that words were omitted or that Mr. Trump’s voice was trailing off.

Then he added one novel detail: “The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

Now, Mr. Trump’s call for Ukraine to look into his CrowdStrike story forms the background to the House impeachment inquiry, which is focused on the second request he made: that Mr. Zelensky investigate Mr. Trump’s possible 2020 opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Trump has placed a concoction of disprovable claims, of the kind usually found on the fringes of the web, squarely in the middle of American politics and diplomacy.

The tale of the supposedly hidden server may have appealed to Mr. Trump because it undercut a well-established fact that he has resented and resisted for three years: The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election to help him win, an effort thoroughly documented by American intelligence agencies and amply supported by public evidence.

By contrast, there is no evidence to support the president’s vague suggestion that Ukraine, not Russia, might be responsible for the hacking, or that CrowdStrike somehow connived in it. But his alternate history has provided a psychological shield for the president against facts that he believes tarnish his electoral victory.

Mr. Trump has long called for better relations with Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia and brushed aside complaints about its conduct. So there is a certain symmetry to his suggestion that Ukraine, Russia’s opponent and the victim of its territorial grab, may somehow have framed Russia for the 2016 election activity.

“Ukraine is the perfect scapegoat for him, because it’s the enemy of Russia,” said Nina Jankowicz, a fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington who regularly visits Ukraine and is writing a book called “How to Lose the Information War.”

She noted that a number of Ukraine-linked stories, some of them distorted or exaggerated, have been pulled together by Mr. Trump’s supporters into a single narrative.

For example, there is the idea, promoted by the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Ukraine’s government actively sabotaged Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. A Ukrainian-American lawyer who consulted for the D.N.C. looked into the finances of Paul Manafort and spoke with Ukrainian embassy officials. But there appears to have been no organized Ukrainian government effort to intervene — certainly nothing comparable to the activities of Russian intelligence agencies ordered by Mr. Putin.

It is true that a Ukrainian legislator helped publicize documents on Mr. Manafort’s multimillion-dollar payments from a Ukrainian political party, leading to his resignation as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman. But the claim of Mr. Manafort’s wrongdoing turned out to be justified. He is now serving seven and a half years in prison for financial fraud and other crimes.

In May, Mr. Trump recalled the American ambassador to Kiev, Marie L. Yovanovitch, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016, telling others she was scheming against his administration. She has denied it.

And Mr. Trump has repeatedly charged that Mr. Biden, who handled Ukrainian affairs as vice president, tried to get a prosecutor fired for investigating a Ukrainian energy company that paid his son, Hunter, handsomely as a board member despite a lack of experience in Ukraine. In fact, multiple countries were pressing for the firing of the prosecutor, who they thought was turning a blind eye to corruption.

“Now it seems like all of these conspiracy theories are merging into one,” Ms. Jankowicz said. She studies disinformation, she said, but Mr. Trump produced one claim she’d never come across.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161614164_ab1b1ada-cb55-4a9c-8ffb-6c95b22c2b1e-articleLarge How a Fringe Theory About CrowdStrike Took Root in the White House Zelensky, Volodymyr Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation Reddit Inc Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Giuliani, Rudolph W Federal Bureau of Investigation Facebook Inc Democratic Party democratic national committee Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Cyberwarfare and Defense CrowdStrike Inc Clinton, Hillary Rodham Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter Atlantic Council 4chan

The Democratic National Committee’s servers came under attack by Russian hackers in 2016.CreditPaul Holston/Associated Press

“I do this for a living, and I’d never heard anyone say the servers were in Ukraine,” she said.

In the 27 months between Mr. Trump’s two citations of the CrowdStrike-Ukraine conspiracy theory, it has survived despite many denials from CrowdStrike, the F.B.I. and people directly involved in the investigations. It has survived despite the fact that the D.N.C. put one of its hacked servers on display — not in Ukraine but in its Washington offices beside the filing cabinet pried open in 1972 by the Watergate burglars (and a photo of the two artifacts ran on The Times’s front page). It has survived despite the indictment prepared last year by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, laying out in extraordinary detail the actions of 12 named Russian military intelligence officers who hacked the D.N.C. and other election targets.

The speculation springs from what Mr. Trump has called a “big Dem scam” — the false notion that the F.B.I. never really investigated the D.N.C. hack. In fact, according to people directly involved, CrowdStrike was in regular contact with the bureau in spring 2016 as it examined dozens of servers used by both the D.N.C. and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

It is true, as Mr. Trump has often tweeted, that F.B.I. agents never took physical possession of the Democrats’ servers. But CrowdStrike supplied the F.B.I. with digital copies of the servers so that the bureau could assess the Russian malware infecting them. The Mueller investigation later confirmed CrowdStrike’s findings.

Still, the president has clung to the theory linking CrowdStrike, Ukraine and the D.N.C. servers despite the repeated efforts of his aides to dissuade him, Thomas Bossert, his former homeland security adviser, said on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “The D.N.C. server and that conspiracy theory has got to go,” he said. “If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”

To go in search of the roots of Mr. Trump’s CrowdStrike-Ukraine conspiracy theory is to travel the internet’s most peculiar provinces and the darkest threads on Twitter and Facebook. On 4chan and pro-Trump spaces on Reddit, on websites like ZeroHedge.com and Washington’s Blog, you can find plenty of speculation about evil manipulation by CrowdStrike and secret maneuvers by Ukrainians — often inflamed by Mr. Trump’s own statements.

Until the president’s statements, however, even internet speculation did not attribute CrowdStrike’s ownership to a rich Ukrainian or suggest that the D.N.C. servers were hidden in Ukraine.

George Eliason, an American journalist who lives in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists fought Ukrainian forces, has written extensively about what he considers to be a “coup attempt” against President Trump involving American and Ukrainian intelligence agencies and CrowdStrike. He said he did not know if his writings for obscure websites might have influenced the president.

“CrowdStrike and Ukrainian Intel are working hand in glove,” he wrote in an email. “Is Ukrainian Intelligence trying to invent a reason for the U.S. to take a hardline stance against Russia? Are they using CrowdStrike to carry this out?”

Mr. Eliason and other purveyors of Ukraine conspiracies often point to the Atlantic Council, a research group in Washington, as the locus of the schemes. The Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk has made donations to the council and serves on its international advisory board; Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s co-founder, who was born in Russia and came to the United States as a child, is an Atlantic Council senior fellow.

That connection seems slender, but it may be the origin of Mr. Trump’s association of a wealthy Ukrainian with CrowdStrike.

Pro-Trump media leaped last week to defend the president’s Ukraine theories. Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show that Mr. Trump’s “reference to CrowdStrike, mark my words, is momentous,” though he did not say why.

And Russian state news outlets are always ready to cheer on Mr. Trump’s efforts to point the blame for the 2016 hack away from Moscow. On Sept. 25, after the White House released its memo on the Zelensky call, Russia’s Sputnik news website ran a story supporting Mr. Trump’s remarks.

The Sputnik article cited Mr. Eliason’s writings and suggested that CrowdStrike might have framed Russia for the D.N.C. hack — if it occurred at all. It quoted a Twitter account called “The Last Refuge” declaring: “The D.N.C. servers were never hacked.”

All this mythmaking about the 2016 hack frustrates Robert Johnston, who was the lead investigator for CrowdStrike on the D.N.C. inquiry. Mr. Johnston, a former Marine and Cyber Command operator, said he could make no sense of Mr. Trump’s assertions.

“It doesn’t connect with anything in my experience,” he said. “I’d be interested in the president of Ukraine’s impression.”

Mr. Johnston, now chief executive of the cybersecurity company Adlumin, said he was weary of the conspiracies surrounding what he considered a straightforward conclusion. Having seen the digital fingerprints of Russian intelligence in earlier hacking cases, he felt there was little doubt about the identity of the perpetrators.

“I don’t know how you get to this point,” Mr. Johnston said of the fantasies Mr. Trump has promoted. “This is a story that just won’t die.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com