Tech

Reid Hoffman apologizes for funding a group that allegedly spread misinformation in Alabama Senate race

Key Points
  • LinkedIn's Hoffman said he had no knowledge of the tactics allegedly used in Alabama prior to the New York Times report on the project.
  • Hoffman said his team is drafting new policies on how it will choose to fund projects in the future.
LinkedIn Co-Founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman participates in a debate on August 23, 2017 at LinkedIn in San Francisco, California.
Kelly Sullivan | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman apologized Wednesday for funding a group that allegedly had a hand in spreading misinformation during the 2017 Alabama Senate race.

In a post on his Medium blog, Hoffman said he was not aware of the tactics alleged in the New York Times article that called out his ties to American Engagement Technologies.

The Times reported last week that AET funneled money to a project that used a Facebook page where people pretended to be conservatives. Participants in the project used language to divide actual conservatives, encouraging them to write in a candidate to divert votes from Republican Roy Moore, who had been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. The tactics resembled those employed by Russian actors during the 2016 presidential campaign to help elect Donald Trump.

The project only had a budget of $100,000, according to Federal Election Commission records reviewed by the Times. A person close to the matter told the Washington Post that Hoffman invested $750,000 in AET.

"I categorically disavow the use of misinformation to sway an election," Hoffman wrote in the Medium post. "In fact, I have deliberately funded multiple organizations trying to re-establish civic, truth-focused discourse in the US. I would not have knowingly funded a project planning to use such tactics, and would have refused to invest in any organization that I knew might conduct such a project."

Moore lost the election to Doug Jones, who became the first Democratic senator in Alabama in 25 years. The seat opened up when Jeff Sessions stepped down to become attorney general under Trump, a position he resigned from in November.

In addition to his apology, Hoffman said he will do more in the future to fully understand where his money is going. He said his politics team is working on new policies to dictate how it chooses projects to fund, and will release those guidelines publicly.

"To reiterate yet again, I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing," Hoffman wrote. "For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET — the organization I did support — more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject."

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

Watch: In-depth interview with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman

VIDEO46:4046:40
In-depth with Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman