Internet Billionaire Reid Hoffman Apologizes for Funding Group Linked to Election Disinformation

Billionaire Reid Hoffman apologized Wednesday for investing in an organization linked to misleading information during the 2017 special election in Alabama, according to The Washington Post. The internet mogul maintained he didn’t know that funding he provided to American Engagement Technologies may have helped disseminate disinformation to target Republican Roy Moore and boost Democrat Doug Jones in the cutthroat Senate race, including via Facebook. Hoffmann, who co-founded LinkedIn and was an early investor in Facebook, echoed Jones’ recent call for a federal investigation into disinformation efforts impacting the special election, the Post reports. Hoffmann, among the top proponents of getting Democrats elected to office following the 2016 election, reportedly provided $750,000 in funding to American Engagement Technologies.  

Hoffman’s apology statement said that American Engagement Technologies provided money to New Knowledge. This research firm’s top executive, Jonathon Morgan, admitted to using disinformation tactics “on a small scale” in the election, the newspaper notes. Morgan has maintained the firm was not involved in a larger effort to spread disinformation during the race. Hoffman reportedly said in a statement: “I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing. For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET—the organization I did support—more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject.” The news of Hoffman’s apology comes shortly after Morgan and several others were suspended from Facebook for “coordinated inauthentic” activity during this election, per the Post.