Within the remaining months of Mr. Trump’s presidential marketing campaign, Russian brokers escalated a yearlong effort to hack and harass his Democratic opponents, culminating within the launch of 1000’s of emails stolen from outstanding Democrats and celebration officers.
Fb had stated nothing publicly about any issues by itself platform. However within the spring of 2016, an organization knowledgeable on Russian cyberwarfare noticed one thing worrisome. He reached out to his boss, Mr. Stamos.
Mr. Stamos’s crew found that Russian hackers gave the impression to be probing Fb accounts for individuals related to the presidential campaigns, stated two workers. Months later, as Mr. Trump battled Hillary Clinton within the basic election, the crew additionally discovered Fb accounts linked to Russian hackers who had been messaging journalists to share data from the stolen emails.
Mr. Stamos, 39, informed Colin Stretch, Fb’s basic counsel, in regards to the findings, stated two individuals concerned within the conversations. On the time, Fb had no coverage on disinformation or any sources devoted to looking for it.
Mr. Stamos, appearing on his personal, then directed a crew to scrutinize the extent of Russian exercise on Fb. In December 2016, after Mr. Zuckerberg publicly scoffed at the concept pretend information on Fb had helped elect Mr. Trump, Mr. Stamos — alarmed that the corporate’s chief government appeared unaware of his crew’s findings — met with Mr. Zuckerberg, Ms. Sandberg and different high Fb leaders.
Ms. Sandberg was indignant. Wanting into the Russian exercise with out approval, she stated, had left the corporate uncovered legally. Different executives requested Mr. Stamos why that they had not been informed sooner.
Nonetheless, Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg determined to increase on Mr. Stamos’s work, creating a gaggle referred to as Mission P, for “propaganda,” to check false information on the location, in response to individuals concerned within the discussions. By January 2017, the group knew that Mr. Stamos’s authentic crew had solely scratched the floor of Russian exercise on Fb, and pressed to challenge a public paper about their findings.