A new investigation by BuzzFeed News reports that Steve Bannon was interested in trying to infiltrate Facebook’s hiring process in the days before he took over Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
BuzzFeed says that, in an email sent on Aug. 1, 2016, former congressional staffer Chris Gacek tipped off Bannon, then head of Breitbart News, about a new job posting “for a DC-based ‘Public Policy Manager’ at Facebook’s What’s APP [sic] division.”
“LinkedIn sent me a notice about some job openings,” Gacek noted. “This seems perfect for Breitbart to flood the zone with candidates of all stripe who will report back to you / Milo with INTEL about the job application process over at FB.”
Bannon reportedly forwarded Gacek’s email to Milo Yiannopoulos, who was Breitbart’s news tech editor at the time, on the same day with brief instructions: “Can u get on this.”
BuzzFeed writes that Yiannopoulos proceeded to forward the request to a group of contracted researchers. “Seems dificult [sic] to do quietly without them becoming aware of efforts,” one responded.
Amid the US congress’s ongoing investigation of how Russian interests sought to influence the 2016 election through Facebook, the BuzzFeed report marks yet another turn. Earlier this month, after receiving increasing pressure from congressional investigators for information on election interference, Facebook admitted that Russian-linked ad buyers had spent $150,000 during the 2016 campaign and agreed to hand over the ads. Quartz’s Heather Timmons reported that the company officials’ testimony to congress still may not be reveal the full scope of the problem.
The revelations have intensified attempts in Washington to regulate Facebook. The same day that Facebook representatives testified before the Senate intelligence committee, two Senate Democrats began circulating a letter on Capitol Hill to drum up support for a bill that would require the social network to be more transparent about its political ad-buying process.
As for Bannon’s reported desire to learn about Facebook’s hiring process from the inside, a source with knowledge of the hiring process told BuzzFeed that WhatsApp was not successfully infiltrated. The role eventually went to Christine Turner, former director of trade policy and global-supply chain security on president Barack Obama’s National Security Council.