A leftwing initiative launched this week aimed at monitoring conservative “disinformation” has ties to a progressive billionaire linked to several of the sort of disinformation projects he is now trying to combat.
LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman’s investment fund donated an undisclosed amount to Indivisible, an advocacy group launching the new effort to track conservative disinformation. The fund, Investing in US, has also financed a group that created fake social media personas to suppress Republican voter turnout in Alabama’s 2017 special Senate election. Indivisible thinks its “Truth Brigade” can help flag misinformation better than social media algorithms, according to Forbes.
Social media platforms have increased their efforts to contain “disinformation” in recent months, often with mixed results. Until recently, Facebook flagged posts claiming the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, even as the theory gained traction in the scientific community. LinkedIn, the only American social network in China, recently censored a China critic based in the United Kingdom who referred to the Chinese government as an “oppressive dictatorship.”
Critics say Hoffman’s involvement casts doubt on the Truth Brigade’s ability to effectively police disinformation. “A man who invests in social media projects aimed at hardball political disinformation is not one whose allies can be trusted,” said Scott Walter, president of Capital Research Center, which tracks liberal dark money groups.
The Alabama special election wasn’t Hoffman’s only run-in with disinformation. Facebook investigated whether a Hoffman-backed initiative called News for Democracy published misleading information targeting Republican voters during the 2018 election.