Al Franken Eviscerates Facebook Lawyer

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From now on, I’m bringing Al Franken with me wherever I go so I don’t have to talk to anybody any more.

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16 thoughts on “Al Franken Eviscerates Facebook Lawyer

  1. Seems pretty straightforward. Only problem is most of these political ads never mentioned Trump or Hillary and would not qualify as political ads under election law. They were focused on issues to rile people up. One was approved and passed around by Black Lives Matter. Others were supported by alt-right.

  2. By a fake Black Lives Matter account — we now know the majority of the stuff the right was all concerned the BLM folks were saying came from fake accounts.

  3. MikeN, the law does not say a foreign power can’t buy election ad time. It says they can’t influence elections in any material way.

    1. Could you point me to this law? Last I checked, the law can’t dictate to foreign powers.
      So who is banned from doing what? Influencing an election is a vague concept. The law specifically allows foreigners to volunteer for a campaign.

  4. Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, prohibiting any foreign money to influence a federal election can be a crime, or a U.S. citizen or entity from coordinating spending. See also the relevant US District Court ruling, 2011, upholding that law.

    The law was being violated by the Russians. Facebook assisted. Did they assist for fun or profit? Did they assist out of ignorance, which may not be an excuse? (Think pawn shops selling stolen merchandise. Being ignorant, will fully or not, does not make that legal).

    1. It appears you are talking about a ban on electioneering communications by foreigners, upheld in Citizens United, which threw out other limits.
      These Facebook ads, from what I’ve read would not qualify as electioneering communications. This appears to be the relevant regulation for political campaigns, separate from the independent expenditures.

      Contributions and donations by foreign nationals
      . It shall be unlawful for—
      a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
      a contribution or donation of money or other
      thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise
      to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a
      Federal, State, or local election;
      a contribution or donation to a committee of a
      political party; or
      an expenditure, independent expenditure, or
      disbursement for an electioneering communication (within
      the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or
      a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution
      or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1)
      from a foreign national.

    1. Who violated this? I thought the act referred to actions taken in other countries, not foreigners operating in the US.

  5. MikeN, remind me to never hire you as my lawer.

    Regarding the FCPA, that would be Facebook’s violation. This is all about Facebook, Twitter and Google. Are they acting, in essence, as the fence, attempting to make the argument that they a) didn’t know they were channeling foreign money into US elections (which is illegal and has noting whatsoever to do with CU or any of the things you cite) or b) are not responsible for their action. Both are probably untrue. Or, maybe not. But that is the point of the investigation.

    But next time I see Al, I’ll tell him to check with MikeN before doing any investigations to see if there is already a determination of what everyone did and didn’t do.

    1. Well, of course. I’m getting most of my legal arguments from Wikipediam and looking at the law directly. FCPA appears to be as I thought, and would not apply here.

      I think a) is a key point. They didn’t know they were channeling, because under US law they were not. I haven’t seen any citation that foreign money cannot be used for ads that do not mention a candidate. From what I have read, these ads didn’t even skirt the edges of campaign law, like lots of other groups do. It was more like ads complaining about Muslims in the country, and others complaining about how Muslims are being attacked.

  6. I’m puzzled by the inability of Trump supporters to be able to discern problems with Russian oligarchs sticking their nose into our business. Stoking the fires of division in coutnry made up of a coalition of cultures and ethnicities doesn’t seem to be a problem for Trumpmurkins.

    In other news,it now appears that U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shares business interests with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, and he failed to reveal this in his confirmation hearings. Tsk, tsk.

    And finally, we have our latest mass shooting to send thoughts and prayers about, brought to us by another one of our Murkin gun lovers. Where do those thoughts and prayers go? And why don’t they make the number of murders by gun lovers decrease? Puzzling. Guess we aren’t thinking or praying hard enough.

    1. Of course it’s a problem. However, it isn’t clear that Facebook did anything illegal, which is what’s being implied. The Facebook guy looks foolish in his answers to Sen Franken. You start with the easy stuff and work your way towards the harder items.
      Greg Laden declares that foreign interference is illegal, but can’t really pinpoint where and what is the illegal action. It isn’t even clear that Facebook ads are subject to campaign finance law at all.

  7. So we have the Republican party looking somewhere else as Russian oligarchs, mobsters, trolls etc. are repeatedly penetrating our information infrastructure and doing damage to our society, reinforcing destructive anti-social tendencies within it. The Trump administration is filthy with Russian influence and guidance. Trump, the great persuader, keeps his base enthralled as if by hypnosis, while he spews whoppers and gets away with it without any significant push back. Trump continuously lowers the bar of acceptable behavior . He apparently thinks that he is some sort of god and can make up new rules for diplomatic and civil behavior, headless of the anomie he is creating. Trump is, wittingly or unwittingly, for all practical purposes, a Russian agent. Trump’s presidency, with its aspirations to authoritarianism and its contempt for truth and science, marks the beginning of a seriously steep decline in American greatness.

  8. A business is not supposed to allow criminals to carry out criminal acts using the business. There are various laws related to this including, despite MikeNs denial, the FCB act.

    In recent years these laws have been expanded and tightened up. There is almost no chance that Facebook did not do something illegal at some level. They allowed hundreds or thousands of very obvious illegal ad buys to occur.

    the only argument that they did not do so willingly is the argument from incredulity. Under the circumstances, the United States Senate would be remiss to fall back on such an argument.

    Furthermore, it is the role of Congress to identify when the prospect emerges of harm to the nation or the citizens because of the lack of some law, oversight, etc.

    Those who suggest the Congress should sit on it’s hands and allow a foreign power to use any means you control a US election are themselves nefarious traitors.

    1. >it is the role of Congress to identify when the prospect emerges of harm to the nation or the citizens because of the lack of some law, oversight, etc.


      >the FCB act.
      Is this a different law, or the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act you were talking about earlier? I don’t see any evidence it can be used for behavior in America. Perhaps if you claim Facebook received benefits overseas in exchange, that Facebook bribed people in the form of accepting these ads.

      >almost no chance that Facebook did not do something illegal at some level. They allowed hundreds or thousands of very obvious illegal ad buys to occur.

      Because you don’t like it, it must be illegal. Let’s twist the law to claim so.
      Why not stick with the original point that the laws and oversight need to be tightened up to prevent this?

      No let’s look at what needs to be changed.
      Would you ban Russian or other foreign countries like North Korea from having Facebook pages and buying ads that promote LGBT rights?
      How about promoting Black Lives Matter and calling for a protest in Baltimore?
      Promoting 2nd Amendment gun rights in Texas?
      Attacking immigration?
      A dog fan page(it is thought the political influence would come later and they were just looking to build a following first, but the page itself was deleted)?

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