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Facebook exec Rob Goldman apologizes after being retweeted by Trump

Goldman seemed to contradict special counsel Robert Mueller and absolve Russia of meddling in the 2016 election.

Rob Goldman, Facebook's vice president of ads, apologized on Monday after seemingly contradicting special counsel Robert Mueller on Twitter — and being retweeted by President Trump to discredit the Russia investigation.

On Friday, Mueller returned a 37-page indictment against 13 Russian nationals for interfering in the 2016 election. Facebook was mentioned several times as a vehicle for that inference. About eight hours later, Goldman tweeted, without getting permission from Facebook, "Very excited to see the Mueller indictment today. We shared Russian ads with Congress, Mueller and the American people to help the public understand how the Russians abused our system." Goldman added: "Still, there are keys facts about the Russian actions that are still not well understood."

He went on to say, "Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal." Goldman cited as proof the fact that most of the Russian ads were bought after the election.

The problem, as journalists including Nicholas Thompson of Wired pointed out, is that Goldman was seemingly absolving Russia of meddling in the election by only looking at the investigation through the lens of Facebook ads. The Russian disinformation campaign primarily involved unpaid posts. And Facebook is only one area of Mueller's sprawling investigation.

But on Saturday, Trump retweeted Goldman's posts, saying they were "fact" that admonished the "Fake News Media."

After an uproar built on social media, Facebook issued a statement. "Nothing we found contradicts the Special Counsel's indictments," said Joel Kaplan, Facebook's vice president of global policy. "Any suggestion otherwise is wrong."

And on Monday, Wired reported that Goldman apologized to his co-workers in an internal message:

"I wanted to apologize for having tweeted my own view about Russian interference without having it reviewed by anyone internally," he wrote. "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."

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