The indictments were announced Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as part of the ongoing special counsel probe into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. FILE - This July 3, 2014, file photo, shows the Microsoft Corp. logo outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash. Microsoft said Monday, June 13, 2016, it is buying professional networking service site LinkedIn for about $26.2 billion. LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, Calif., has more than 430 million members. Microsoft has uncovered new Russian hacking attempts targeting U.S. political groups ahead of the midterm elections, the technology giant reported Tuesday.
President Donald Trump trashed the Russia investigation once again last week at a rally in West Virginia, saying that "there were no Russians in our campaign" and denouncing "a total fabrication" to enthralled supporters. "Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania?" he asked mockingly. "Are there any Russians here tonight? There may well have been, for anyone in the crowd scrolling through a smartphone. As Trump spoke, Russian-linked social-media networks were busy attacking Trump's national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, using the same type of digital operations that the Kremlin deployed against the 2016 presidential election.
Former New York State Homeland Security Director Michael Balboni says Russians have used American technology against the U.S. Operatives of the Kremlin-linked troll farm called the Internet Research Agency reportedly created Twitter accounts pretending to be local newspapers -- and shared real local stories rather than fake news. According to NPR, at least 48 separate Twitter accounts were created well before the 2016 presidential election and were designed to look like legitimate city newspapers. In some cases, they used names of newspapers from the past, such as the Chicago Daily News, which folded in 1978. The accounts, some of which gathered nearly 20,000 followers, didn't purposely spread false news and instead shared credible local news stories without any particular slant. NPR notes that the plan for such accounts was to create trust among media consumers before starting to infuse misinformation into its shared posts.
Inside Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters, top executives gathered in the glass-walled conference room of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. It was September 2017, more than a year after Facebook engineers discovered suspicious Russia-linked activity on its site, an early warning of the Kremlin campaign to disrupt the 2016 US election. Congressional and federal investigators were closing in on evidence that would implicate the company. But it was not the looming disaster at Facebook that angered Ms Sandberg. It was the social network's security chief, Alex Stamos, who had informed company board members the day before that Facebook had yet to contain the Russian infestation. Mr Stamos' briefing had prompted a humiliating boardroom interrogation of Ms Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, and her billionaire boss. She appeared to regard the admission as a betrayal. "You threw us under the bus!" she yelled at Mr Stamos, according to people who were present. The clash that day would set off a reckoning -- for Mr Zuckerberg, for Ms Sandberg and for the business they had built together. In just over a decade, Facebook has connected more than 2.2 billion people, a global nation unto itself that reshaped political campaigns, the advertising business and daily life around the world. Along the way, Facebook accumulated one of the largest-ever repositories of personal data, a treasure trove of photos, messages and likes that propelled the company into the Fortune 500. But as evidence accumulated that Facebook's power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr Zuckerberg and Ms Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives.