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LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman apologises for ‘accidentally’ funding fake news


New York, Dec 30: LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman on Wednesday, December 26, issued a statement addressing a story which was carried by the New York Times telling about a "secret experiment" that made use of fake news in a special Senate election in Alabama where Democrat Dough Jones took on Republican Roy Moore in December 2017.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman apologises for ‘accidentally’ funding fake news

The Times story said that Democratic tech operatives put to use Russian manipulation tactics and the exercise was funded by Hoffman to see Jones defeat Moore which eventually was the reality.

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"The secret project, carried out on Facebook and Twitter, was likely too small to have a significant effect on the race, in which the Democratic candidate it was designed to help, Doug Jones, edged out the Republican, Roy S. Moore. But it was a sign that American political operatives of both parties have paid close attention to the Russian methods, which some fear may come to taint elections in the United States," the Times reported.

"I categorically disavow the use of misinformation to sway an election. I would not have knowingly funded a project planning to use such tactics, and would have refused to invest in any organization that I knew might conduct such a project. Nevertheless, I do have an apology to make and have learned a lesson here," Hoffman, 51, said in a statement, claiming that he was unaware of the project.

A board member for a number of tech companies including Microsoft, Hoffman has invested millions of dollars in groups that back the Democratic Party following the election of Donald Trump as the president of the US in 2016.

One such investment that Hoffman made was to American Engagement Technologies, as per the Washington Post. Hoffman invested worth $750,000 in the group headed by the United States Digital Service's first director Mikey Dickerson.

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Jones called for the federal government to probe the case after his election and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is looking into the matter to ensure whether the disinformation campaign violated the campaign laws of the state, Washington Post reported. Hoffman too has joined the call for a federal investigation.

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