Instagram boss: Foreign social media influence a risk in 2020 election

Home / Instagram boss: Foreign social media influence a risk in 2020 election

  • Instagram boss Adam Mosseri told Savannah Guthrie on “Today” that there are foreign adversaries trying to use social media to “their own end” ahead of the presidential election. 
  • “There are definitely foreign adversaries who are trying to use the platforms, or platforms like Instagram, to their own end,” Mosseri said. “We think of the election here in the US in 2020 as a huge test, not only for Instagram and Facebook, but for the industry at large.”
  • Mosseri oversaw Facebook’s News Feed during the 2016 election when Russia-linked agents spread disinformation on social media that reached millions of people, particularly on Facebook. 
  • It was a learning moment for Facebook, Mosseri said, noting that it took Facebook too long to “focus on the negative that can come from connecting so many people at scale.”
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Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said that foreign adversaries are attempting to use social media to “their own end” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Mosseri discussed Instagram’s role in the election during an interview Tuesday with “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie to mark the 10th anniversary of the popular platform. Guthrie questioned Mosseri on whether he thinks there is currently disinformation spreading on Instagram similar to the Russia-backed campaign on Facebook prior to the 2016 election. 

“There are definitely foreign adversaries who are trying to use the platforms, or platforms like Instagram, to their own end,” Mosseri told “Today.” “We think of the election here in the US in 2020 as a huge test, not only for Instagram and Facebook, but for the industry at large.”

Mosseri said Instagram is trying to focus on three primary areas ahead of the election: getting out the vote, preventing foreign interference like what happened in 2016, and planning for “complicated” scenarios, though he didn’t go into specifics. 

Mosseri said the election is his No. 1 priority, “the thing I’m worried about most.”

Mosseri took over the top job at Instagram in 2018 after founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left the company. Mosseri is a Facebook veteran, and prior to joining Instagram, he was in charge of Facebook’s News Feed, including during the 2016 election when Russian agents shared disinformation on social media intended to influence voters. Those posts reached 126 million users on Facebook, but Russia-linked disinformation was shared on Twitter and YouTube as well.  

The aftermath of the election was a “pretty big, intense year and sort of learning moment for us,” Mosseri said. 

“It took us too long to focus on the negative that can come from connecting so many people at scale,” he said. “I think the biggest takeaway is that we should have started investing more years earlier than we did and that we’ve been playing catch-up since then.”

Watch Mosseri’s full interview with “Today” »

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