Facebook has found itself at the centre of another Russia controversy after Rob Goldman, its vice president of advertising, took to Twitter to accuse the media of misrepresenting the truth in relation to the way Russian trolls had co-opted the social network for their own ends.
The comments were immediately seized upon by president Donald Trump who triumphantly retweeted the criticism, framing it as support for his own crusade against ‘fake news’.
Goldman took to Twitter on Friday to point out that contrary to public perceptions most Russian adverts were posted after the presidential election and thus were more an effort to divide society than an attempt to sway the election result.
The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump and the election. https://t.co/2dL8Kh0hof
— Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018
Goldman’s message was swiftly embraced by the US commander in chief as support for his own agenda, a key part of which is concerted blanket attacks on the media in an effort to undermine the authority of institutions such as the New York Times and CNN.
“I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.”
Vice President of Facebook Ads https://t.co/A5ft7cGJkE
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2018
Criticism of Goldman’s remarks were equally swift, with many stating that Twitter was not the best platform to air nuanced views, particularly with an absence of any context to stress that the ad was related solely to ads on Facebook.
Mainardo de Nardis, executive vice-chairman at Omnicom Media Group, was among those to hit out.
You really are not in a position to preach and your astonishing tweets have created confusion and anger. Enough damage done over the past 2+ years. In the absence of real actions silence would be appreciated.— Mainardo de Nardis (@mdenardis) February 18, 2018
Facebook has begun employing direct mail in the form of coded postcards to verify the identity of political ad buyers in the US as it seeks to get a handle on the issue.