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Rob Goldman apologized. Should he have?

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Three days after his Twitter thread about the Mueller indictment, Rob Goldman apologized. Goldman, wh
 
February 20 · Issue #87 · View online
The Interface
Three days after his Twitter thread about the Mueller indictment, Rob Goldman apologized. Goldman, who is Facebook’s vice president of ads, wrote in an internal post that he should have run his tweets by someone else before he posted them, reports Nicholas Thompson in Wired:
“I wanted to apologize for having tweeted my own view about Russian interference without having it reviewed by anyone internally. The tweets were my own personal view and not Facebook’s. I conveyed my view poorly. The Special Counsel has far more information about what happened [than] I do—so seeming to contradict his statements was a serious mistake on my part.
To those of you who have reached out this weekend to offer your support, thank you. It means more than you know. And to all of you who have worked so hard over the last six months to demonstrate that we understand our responsibility to prevent abuse on Facebook—and are working hard to do better in the future—my deepest apologies.“
Were Goldman’s tweets really that big of a deal? Masha Gessen, who writes with breathtaking clarity about Russian politics, rolls her eyes at the whole affair:
Goldman, the Facebook V.P., has seen more of the Russian ads and posts than most Americans, and his imagination clearly strains to accommodate the push to take them seriously. It’s hard to square words like “sophisticated” (frequently used by the Times to describe the Russian campaign) with posts like one from an apparently fake L.G.B.T. group promoting something called “Buff Bernie: A Coloring Book for Berniacs” with catchy English-language copy: “The coloring is something that suits for all people.”
More broadly, Gessen argues for restraint in processing last week’s revelations about Russia’s information war, which she describes as more of a "cacophony” than a conspiracy.
Americans’ apparent need to imagine a Russian adversary as cunning, masterly, and strategic is matched only by the Russians’ own belief in a solid, stable, unshakable American society. Stability is what Vladimir Putin has been promising Russians for eighteen years and still hasn’t delivered, making Russians all the more resentful of what they imagine as a predictable, safe American society. Americans, on the other hand, increasingly imagine American society as unstable and deeply at risk. While most people believe themselves to have a solid grip on reality, they imagine their compatriots to be gullible and chronically misinformed. This, in turn, means that we no longer have a sense of shared reality, a common imagination that underlies political life. In a society with a strong sense of shared reality, a bunch of sub-literate tweets and ridiculous ads would be nothing but a curiosity.
Jeet Heer makes a similar point in the New Republic, in a piece headlined “Stop inflating the Russia threat.” (He quotes a piece by Henry Farrell in Foreign Policy last month.)
Framing the election meddling as strictly a matter of outside interference will only encourage the conspiracy-mongering that already makes it hard to form a democratic consensus. “By exaggerating the actual consequences of foreign influence operations, American elites are further undermining the confidence and shared knowledge that American democracy needs to function,” Farrell argued. “They are tacitly encouraging Americans on the liberal left to build their own private universe of facts, in which Russian influence has pervasive political consequences.”
Ultimately, my beef with Goldman’s tweets was how they aligned with President Donald Trump’s permanent war against the press. Goldman suggested that “the main media narrative” about Russia ignored the fact that the (slight) majority of its illegal ad spending on Facebook occurred after the election, when in fact it had been widely covered in mainstream outlets. Facebook’s relationship with publishers is fraught enough without its vice president of ads painting them one of its chief antagonists. 
I suspect Goldman realizes that now. But set those tweets aside and consider the larger question: is our hyperventilating about Russia’s cyber-warfare making a mountain out a molehill? At the very least, I suspect it may be distracting us from some of the underlying fault lines in our democracy. Which isn’t to say social networks ought to be let off the hook — but I am taking it as a reminder to approach new revelations with as much calm as I can muster. 

Democracy
After Florida School Shooting, Russian ‘Bot’ Army Pounced
Long Before U.S. Election, Russian Trolls Were Spreading Disinformation
How to Inoculate the Public Against Fake News
Fake videos are on the rise. As they become more realistic, seeing shouldn't always be believing
Lawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology
The far-right smear campaign against students who survived the Parkland massacre
Banning Bots, Punishing Troll Farmers, and Hardening Voting Machines: Here’s How to Stop Russia From Wrecking Election 2018
Did 'Bots' Force Al Franken to Resign?
Elsewhere
Lesser-known YouTubers band together on ‘Demonetization Day’
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wants $500 per month in basic income
“Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War
Related:
dom hofmann
a lot of the bitter former twitter executives in these articles fucking sucked
2:24 PM - 20 Feb 2018
Here’s some Twitter options for Mac users now that the official app is going away
The Case Against Google
Launches
U.S. Attorney General Sessions forms cyber task force to probe election meddling
Snapchat now has Giphy integration and will introduce a Tabs function for Stories
Instagram Direct one-ups Snapchat with replay privacy controls
Facebook’s plan to unite AR, VR, and News Feed with 3D posts | TechCrunch
Takes
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And finally ...
Kids who dab on Snapchat aren't actually helping cure cancer
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Dabs? casey@theverge.com 
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