Obama’s FBI Monitored social media and the news on election day to track “Russian fake news,” or so they claim.
In the months leading up to Election Day, Twitter and Facebook were the feeding grounds for viral “news” stories floating conspiracies and hoaxes, many aimed at spreading negative false claims about Hillary Clinton.
On Election Day, dozens of agents and analysts huddled at a command center arrayed with large monitoring screens at the FBI headquarters in Washington watching for security threats, according to multiple sources.
That included analysts monitoring cyber threats, after months of mounting Russian intrusions targeting every part of the US political system, from political parties to policy think-tanks to state election systems.
On this day, there was also a group of FBI cyber and counterintelligence analysts and investigators watching social media.
FBI analysts had identified social media user accounts behind stories, some based overseas, and the suspicion was that at least some were part of a Russian disinformation campaign, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
The FBI declined to comment for this story.
For the FBI, this was uncomfortable territory, given the First Amendment’s free speech protections even for fake news stories.
“We were right on the edge of Constitutional legality,” a person briefed on the investigation said. “We were monitoring news.”
Not only does this get close to the line of the government crossing the line of the first amendment, it also raises the question of if Russia was trying to influence the election, why didn’t Obama stop them?