In the past two weeks, investigations into Russian influence have hit US social media firms on two different fronts. The first was a series of hearings in Congress over the role of an alleged Russian troll farm in buying political ads on Facebook and Twitter. The second was part of the Paradise papers investigation – which showed that money from institutions with close ties to the Russian state funded major investments in Facebook and Twitter by a prominent Silicon Valley investor named Yuri Milner. It is so hard to sort out the areas of legitimate concern from the areas of anti-Russian hysteria, we decided to bring in someone who’s covered Russia from inside.
- Elizaveta Osetinskya, former editor of the RBC news site in Russia, where she published the Russian side of the Panama papers investigation. (Shortly after it was published, her entire team got fired.) She’s now a fellow at UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Project, and the founder of a new Russian-language publication, The Bell.