Facebook’s $6,000 donation to Nunes throws its self-proclaimed neutrality into question

Addy Baird

Addy Baird Reporter, Think Progress

Facebook has donated thousands of dollars in recent months to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), one of the leading congressional voices fighting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential presidential obstruction.

In a tweet Monday morning, social bookmarking site Pinboard noted the social media giant — which is intertwined with the Russia investigation over its failure to prevent fake Russian troll accounts from spreading disinformation during the 2016 election — had reportedly made a $1,000 donation to the Devin Nunes Campaign Committee on June 29.

Facebook has donated a total of $6,000 to Nunes’ committee for the general election cycle in 2018.

Nunes is one of the members of Congress most skeptical of the Russia investigation. Most recently, he criticized Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian officials charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee servers, as well as the email accounts of Hillary Clinton campaign staffers, calling the indictment “ridiculous.”

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Nunes said it was “great that they indicted Russians,” saying that they were “always up to bad things” and were “constantly attacking the United States and our allies.” However, he then turned his sights on Mueller, claiming the investigation was a political witch-hunt.

“In the indictment, they leave out some really important people that they also went after, so the indictment plays like they are only going after the Democrats, when Bob Mueller and all his investigators and his lawyers know for a fact that they also targeted Republicans,” Nunes said, referring to the indicted Russians, all of whom are GRU officers, or Russian military intelligence. “Why is that not in the indictment? It makes the indictment look ridiculous.”

As Pinboard noted Monday, Facebook loves to talk about being a neutral platform. Last fall, founder Mark Zuckerberg responded to President Trump’s claim that Facebook was against him in a post.

“Trump says Facebook is against him,” he wrote. “Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

But Facebook has not donated to Andrew Janz, Nunes’ general election challenger, according to an FEC review, nor is this the first time the company has donated to Nunes. According to filings, Facebook also donated $5,000 to Nunes last year during the primary campaign.

The Facebook PAC is very active, donating to both Republicans and Democrats. The Verge recently reported that, since 2014, the group had donated more than $640,000 to the members of Congress who questioned Zuckerberg at a congressional hearing in April.

Facebook has also found itself in hot water recently for defending its choice to host InfoWars, the conspiracy site headed by Alex Jones, who is best known for calling the Sandy Hook shooting a false flag.

“We see Pages on both the left and right pumping out what they consider opinion or analysis — but others call fake news. We believe banning these Pages would be contrary to the basic principles of free speech,” the company tweeted in response to a CNN reporter who raised questions about why Facebook had allowed the site to continue hosting its official page on the platform.

Facebook notably played a pivotal role in the Russian hacking of the 2016 election, failing to crack down on phony pages which were spreading political disinformation to targeted audiences, in an attempt to sway the results in Trump’s favor. While some of the pages were anti-Trump, the majority spread misleading or blatantly false ads about Clinton. Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals for their part in the sprawling disinformation campaign back in February.

Initially Facebook denied it had played any unknowing role in the Russian interference, but later admitted to the glaring oversight. In an attempt to do damage control, it launched a “fake news” reporting tool and implemented a new political ad approval process, which requires anyone posting political marketing content to report where their funding comes from.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

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