By Peter Hasson
Democratic operatives funded by left-wing tech billionaire Reid Hoffman ran a widespread campaign using misleading Facebook pages in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
American Engagement Technologies (AET), which was founded by former Obama administration official Mikey Dickerson, bought ads for two Facebook pages, “The Daily Real” and “Today’s Nation,” encouraging Republican voters to stay home in the midterm elections, Facebook’s ad archives show.
Both pages appear to be designed to give the impression that they were operated by frustrated conservatives rather than by Democratic operatives.
The American flag-adorned pages encouraged conservative voters either to stay home in November or to vote for Democrats to punish Republicans for being insufficiently conservative. Other ads called polls predicting a “blue wave” in the 2018 elections “unreliable” and downplayed the election’s importance.
The misleading ads collectively garnered millions of impressions on Facebook, TheDCNF’s review of Facebook’s archives found.
Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and an early investor in Facebook, previously acknowledged funding AET after both he and the group came under fire for running a self-described “false flag” campaign during the 2017 Alabama special election. That misinformation campaign was intended to falsely link Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore to Russian influence operations.
AET’s operations in the 2018 midterm elections show that the Hoffman-funded group went further than previously known in attempting to mislead American voters for the purpose of swinging an election.
One series of ads pushed the narrative that the Democratic “blue wave” was actually a “myth” and said the polls showing a Democratic advantage were “unreliable.”
Another series set of ads pushed a narrative that congressional Republicans were betraying “real conservatives.”
“Some Trump supporters see midterm losses for congressional republicans [sic] as a wake-up call to get serious on the wall,” the Democratic operatives wrote in another post.
Another post included a link to an article about frustrated populist Republicans and stressed the need to “send a message” because “Trump is failing us.”
A similar ad, referring to the midterm elections, told voters that “none of this even matters” and chided “both sides” for “shouting so much.” Another ad told voters that “both sides are a mess.”
One series of ads told voters that there were “No good choices” in the midterm elections. Voting for Democrats to send a message “feels like the best option,” the Democratic operatives wrote.
Other ads linked to an article that urged “Semi-Trumpers” to either cross party lines, vote third-party or stay home in November, rather than vote Republican. “Even more true in light of the recent violence,” read the caption. “If you aren’t helping, don’t show up.”
A similar set of ads linked to an article that called for Republican voters to boycott the GOP. The post was captioned: “I hope folks go for this. Seems like the only thing that can save true conservatives.”
Neither Dickerson nor Hoffman returned requests for comment.
Another Hoffman-funded group, News for Democracy, similarly used a patriotic-themed page called “Our Flag Our Country” to push anti-Trump messaging in the midterms, as The Washington Post reported on Monday.
Facebook is investigating whether News for Democracy violated its rules against misleading political advertising, according to the Post.
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