LinkedIn co-founder apologizes for funding group involved in disinformation campaign

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Reid Hoffman is apologizing for his role in funding a group involved in a disinformation campaign targeting voters in Alabama’s special Senate election last year.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Hoffman, one of the co-founders of LinkedIn and a former PayPal executive, said he regretted that the group he funded — American Engagement Technologies (AET) — participated in an effort that misled voters in the campaign.

“I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing,” he said. “For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET — the organization I did support — more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject.”

ADVERTISEMENT
The effort was first revealed last week by The New York Times, which reported that a group of Democratic tech figures employed Russian-style disinformation tactics to target Republican senatorial candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreRoy Moore wants judge who ruled against him removed from case The Hill's Morning Report - Lawmakers split over Mueller findings: 'case closed' vs. 'cover-up' Roy Moore 'seriously considering' another Senate bid MORE.

One of the groups involved in the campaign was New Knowledge, a digital research firm that earlier this month prepared a report for the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russia’s own influence operations.

Facebook suspended Jonathon Morgan, an executive at New Knowledge, for his role in the effort, known as Project Birmingham. The project's efforts included Facebook posts with disinformation intended to convince voters not to back Moore. 

According to the Post, Hoffman invested $750,000 in AET, a digital firm founded by a former Obama administration official.