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Conflicts of interest with Facebook censorship, the Atlantic Council, Burisma & politics: perspective

Facebook’s election misinformation monitoring partner Atlantic Council received over $450K from Burisma

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While receiving nearly half a million dollars from Burisma, the Atlantic Council partnered with Facebook to monitor election misinformation.

Then, last week Facebook suppressed negative press about Burisma under the watch of Facebook’s election integrity leader, who is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who used to work for the former VP of the United States, Joe Biden.

Conflicts of interest abound between Facebook’s censorship, the Atlantic Council, Burisma, and politics.

OAN journalist Jack Posobiec connected several of the dots succinctly in a Tweet on Thursday:

Starting in 2016, Burisma would give the Atlantic Council $100,000 per year, Yahoo News reported in November, 2019.

The Atlantic Council told Yahoo News at the time “that in addition to the $100,000 given annually by Burisma, the company ‘also reimbursed speaker travel and event costs, which … amounted to around [$50,000 to $70,000] per year,'” which would put the total at around $450,000 as of the end of 2019.

On its own website the Atlantic Council lists Burisma on its list of contributors who doled out between $100,000 and $249,999 to the think tank in 2019 alone.

“The Atlantic Council has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems” — Facebook

While that was going on, Facebook announced a “new election partnership with the Atlantic Council,” on May 17, 2018.

The social media giant said that it was using “the Atlantic Council’s Digital Research Unit Monitoring Missions during elections and other highly sensitive moments,” and that “experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with our security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world.”

Facebook said the partnership would allow it to focus on “monitoring for misinformation and foreign interference and also working to help educate citizens as well as civil society.”

Anna Makanju
Anna Makanju

So, Facebook partnered with the Atlantic Council to monitor for misinformation during elections while the think tank was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Ukrainian energy company Burisma — a company that had the son of the former United States VP on its board.

Then last week, Facebook censored the New York Post article that was critical of Burisma, to say the very least.

And the person leading Facebook’s election integrity efforts, Anna Makanju, is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who used to be the special policy adviser for Europe and Eurasia (including Ukraine) to the former vice president of the United States.

When the New York Post published its “smoking gun” story on October 14, Facebook’s communications director Andy Stone announced that the social media giant was already suppressing the story evidently before the article was even reviewed by Facebook’s “third party fact checkers.”

To recap:

  • The person who leads Facebook’s election integrity efforts used to work for the former VP of the United States and is currently a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
  • The Atlantic Council received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Burisma, where the former VP’s son was on the board of directors.
  • The Atlantic Council partnered with Facebook to monitor election misinformation.
  • Facebook suppressed the story about Burisma and the former VP’s son.

Do you see a pattern of conflict of interests?

The list of contributors to the Atlantic Council is extensive, with most of the big tech companies (Twitter, Google, Facebook, Microsoft), foreign and domestic organizations, banks, telecoms, governments, the US Marine Corps, and even Henry Kissinger all giving money to the DC think tank.

Facebook praised the Atlantic Council at the time of their partnership, saying that the DC think “has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems.”

Facebook’s partnership with the Atlantic Council to monitor election misinformation, the money the Atlantic Council received from Burisma, and the person in charge of election integrity having worked for Facebook, the Atlantic Council, and the former vice president, might be factors contributing to Facebook’s suppression of the “smoking gun” story.

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is the editor of The Sociable. His passions include writing about how technology impacts society and the parallels between Artificial Intelligence and Mythology. Previously, he was a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa and an editor at Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co