Right-wing blogs seized on a partnership between Facebook and a non-partisan think tank group in May 2018 to attempt to tie the social media platform to one of its most reliable boogeyman figures.
At the time, the platform had announced that it had begun working with the Atlantic Council, claiming that the partnership would help fight the spread of disinformation during elections. Facebook said in a statement:
Experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with our security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. This will help increase the number of “eyes and ears” we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.
The Atlantic Council has a history of being anti-Russia. The think tank has published reports about how the U.S. can “get tougher on Russia” and how to “fight back against Russian political warfare,” The Daily Caller reported in June 2017.
The “link,” in this case, was a donation listed between between $10,000 and $24,999 to the group that year and attributed to a division of Soros’ own organization the Open Society Foundations (OSF). As of March 2022 the OSF’s listed donations total between $100,000 and $249,999.
That July other fringe blogs further inflamed the story, claiming that Facebook had hired Soros:
Mark Zuckerberg’s “social” network is hoping to rid their News Feed of pro-Trump posts ahead of major elections in the US and around the world.
The world’s largest social media company wants to cull pages, groups, and individuals who post content showing support for Donald Trump to prevent users being “tricked” into voting for him again in the next US Presidential Elections.
Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? And I’m serious. Why do I care? Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Which I am.
Carlson later claimed he was joking.
The top-performing link posts by U.S. Facebook pages in the last 24 hours are from:
1. Ben Shapiro
2. Nick Adams
3. Steven Crowder
4. Occupy Democrats
5. Fox News
6. Brigitte Gabriel
7. The Federalist Papers
9. Still Moments
10. Washington Post
— Facebook's Top 10 (@FacebooksTop10) February 28, 2022
Needless to say, there was nothing to back up the claim that Facebook “hired” Soros. In fact, less than a year after the partnership between the platform and the Atlantic Council, Facebook confirmed that one of its executives hired a public relations group to push anti-Semitic talking points smearing Soros.
Meanwhile, Facebook itself established a link of its own to the Daily Caller in 2019 when it included “Check Your Facts,” which is owned by the Caller, to its fact-checking program. The move has been attributed to another Facebook executive, Joel Kaplan.
In February 2022 Carlson again downplayed Russia’s intensions toward Ukraine. As the Washington Post reported:
He asked his viewers to question why they should hate Russian President Vladimir Putin. A day later, as a guest on another Fox News show, “The Ingraham Angle,” he echoed a Kremlin talking point about Ukraine being a puppet of the West, saying that Ukraine wasn’t a democracy but “essentially managed by the [U.S.] State Department.”
After Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, however, Carlson again backtracked.
Update 3/7/2022, 4:02 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. -ag