Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on Meet The Press that his social media person in San Diego went to the Clinton campaign in September and warned them about weird Russian efforts to use his Facebook pages to say horrible things and undermine democracy.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 18, 2018
Chuck Todd: Let me start with Russia, since I ended there, to keep sort of the flow of the conversation going here. Your campaign, perhaps these Russians were told to leave it alone, that the only people that they were not to criticize were Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. I’m curious, did anybody in your campaign get interviewed by Mueller to just make sure your campaign had nothing to do with this?
Sen. Bernie Sanders: No. To the best of my knowledge, nobody in our campaign was interviewed. Mueller mentioned me twice, our campaign twice in his report. And I think what he was talking about is kind of old news. It’s what most Americans know, is that at the end of my campaign, when it appeared that Clinton was going to win, and certainly, after she won the nomination, what the Russians were doing is flocking to Bernie Sanders Facebook sites, and they were saying to Bernie Sanders supporters, as they were, by the way, to Black Lives Matter supporters, people who are fighting for social justice, as they were saying to the Muslim community, if you voted for Sanders, you have to understand, Hillary Clinton is crazy, she’s a murderer, she is terrible, all kinds of horrible, horrible things about Hillary Clinton. And it turns out that one of our social media guys in San Diego actually went to the Clinton campaign in September and said something weird is going on. Bernie’s not in the campaign. Hundreds of these people are now coming on to his Facebook site. So, I think we already knew that it was an effort to undermine American democracy and to really say horrible things about Secretary Clinton.
The problem is Facebook, not Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton
The problem here isn’t Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The problem is that Facebook let the Russians run wild with dummy accounts and propaganda. The story that Sanders told Chuck Todd is why Facebook is under so much scrutiny. A Sanders social media person told Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but all they could do was notify Facebook. The final responsibility rests with Facebook to police their platform. Facebook should require all users and businesses to verify their accounts. All verified users should get blue checkmarks. Facebook also needs to give page administrators more control to report content and make sure that those reports get seen by actual human beings. It would be great candidate Facebook pages had a person to contact at Facebook.
The Bernie Sanders social media person did his part. The Hillary Clinton campaign tried their best to warn about the Russian efforts, but Facebook dropped the ball. The Russians used every social and political fracture that they could find to support Donald Trump, but it was the social media websites that gave the Russians the reach and power to amplify their efforts.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association