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Facebook’s VP of ads says Russian meddling aimed to divide US

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Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, in Athens, Greece, on Friday, May 27, 2016.

Bloomberg | Contributor | Getty Images

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, in Athens, Greece, on Friday, May 27, 2016.

Facebook and other social media platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, have come under intense scrutiny in past weeks, as more information has surfaced about how Russian actors used those platforms to spread misinformation online.

Mueller’s 37-page indictment, released on Friday, revealed the depth of Russian involvement in the U.S. political process. The document stated that a Russian organization, called the Internet Research Agency, created fictitious American personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media to wage “information warfare” against the United States.

Facebook’s Goldman stated that sowing chaos, not electing Trump, was Russia’s primary intent in infiltrating American social media networks.

“Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal,” he wrote on Twitter.

To prove his point, he referenced an anti-Islam protest in Houston in November 2017. Russian trolls were later shown to have organized both sides of the protest.

The fact that it all benefited Trump, was just an added plus for Russia, according to Goldman.

“I think the Russians believed that Trump would be a more divisive leader,” he said.

Facebook has released the names of several fake accounts, groups and events created and orchestrated by Russians on social media. But even the company admits it can’t catch all of the ads. Goldman emphasized Facebook is actively working to prevent such manipulation in the future.

“We are also taking aggressive steps to prevent this sort of meddling in the future by requiring verification of political advertisers and by making all ads on the platform visible to anyone who cares to examine them,” Goldman said.



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Trump pardons Steve Bannon, Elliott Broidy, others on last night in White House

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President Donald Trump speaks at a Make America Great Again rally at the Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia.

Leah Millis | Reuters

President Donald Trump issued dozens of pardons on his last night in the White House, including one to his former campaign chief and ex-White House advisor Steve Bannon.

Others who received pardons from Trump included the major Republican fundraiser Eliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty last fall to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has been serving a 28-year prison sentence for fraud charges, and the rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a weapons charge last month.

Bannon, former head of the conservative news site Breitbart, was arrested last year with several co-defendants on federal charges in New York, but had yet to stand trial in that case, where he was free on $5 million bond.

He and the other defendants are accused of defrauding donors to a nonprofit group that ostensibly planned to use the money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a political obsession of Trump and many of his supporters.

In all, Trump granted pardons to 73 people, and commuted the criminal sentences of 70 other people, in what are likely to be his last acts of executive clemency as president.

Trump did not issue a pardon to himself, or to any of his adult children, despite speculation he would do so despite the lack of any pending federal criminal charges against any of them.

The pardons were the third big groups of grants of executive clemency issued by Trump since his election loss in November to Joe Biden, who is set to be inaugurated as president middday Wednesday.

In December, Trump pardoned a rogue’s gallery of felons connected to him, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Republican political operative and longtime Trump friend Roger Stone, his daughter Ivanka’s father-in-law Charles Kushner, and former campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.

Others granted pardons by Trump last month were four former Blackwater USA guards convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007, disgraced ex-GOP congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and Philips Esformes, a Florida health-care facility owner convicted of what prosecutors have said was the biggest health-care fraud ever charged by the Department of Justice.

Presidential pardons only apply to convictions for federal crimes. Presidents do not have the power to pardon people for state crimes.

Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, currently is the target of a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office.

The probe, which originally was focused on how the company accounted for hush money payments paid to two women who claim they had sex with Trump — who denies their allegations — since has expand to include questions of how the Trump Organization valued real estate assets.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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How much are Disney’s cruises to Antarctica and Galapagos Islands?

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Alibaba founder Jack Ma reappears after crackdown on his tech empire

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Alibaba founder Jack Ma has emerged after weeks out of the spotlight that sparked speculation about his whereabouts as his companies face increased regulatory scrutiny.

In a video posted on Chinese social media, Ma addressed rural teachers as part of one his charity foundation’s initiatives. The annual event, which is usually hosted in the resort city of Sanya, sees the Jack Ma Foundation celebrate the achievements of rural teachers who are awarded cash support.

In October, Ma made some comments that appeared critical of China’s financial regulator.

It was one of the reasons attributed to China’s regulators pulling the plug on what would have been a record-setting initial public offering of Ant Group, the financial technology giant Ma founded.

Since those comments, Ma had. not been seen leading to speculation he had gone missing. But a source told CNBC this month that he was just laying low.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for more.

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