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Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Tech was a big loser in Mueller's stunning narrative, which showed how easily the big platforms were gamed. Instagram, owned by Facebook, was a key tool:

  • The indictment "underscores how thoroughly social-media companies like Facebook and Twitter were played by Russian propagandists, AP Tech Writers Matt O'Brien and Mae Anderson write:
  • Why it matters: "[I]t's not clear if the companies have taken sufficient action to prevent something similar from happening again."
  • "The indictment ... underscores that the problem wasn't just 'bots' — i.e., automated social-media accounts — but human conspirators who fine-tuned propaganda and built online relationships with American activists."
  • "[P]rosecutors allege that Russian criminals used PayPal as a primary conduit to transfer money for general expenses and to buy Facebook ads aimed at influencing voters."
  • From the N.Y. Times: "In mid-October [2016], Woke Blacks, an Instagram account run by the Internet Research Agency, carried the message 'hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.'"
  • Statement from Joel Kaplan, Facebook's vice president of global public policy: "We know we have more to do to prevent against future attacks ... We're making significant investments, including increasing the number of people working on security from 10,000 to 20,000 this year."

An illuminating take on the indictment came from Michael McFaul of Stanford, who was ambassador to Russia under President Obama, talking to Nicolle Wallace from Munich on MSNBC:

  • "The Internet Research Agency is run by a close, personal friend of Vladimir Putin. They would have never undertaken ... this audacious operation without the blessing of the Kremlin. And nothing in Russia happens without Vladimir Putin being involved."
  • "[T]he indictment was careful. But, from my point of view, ... this was an operation orchestrated by Vladimir Putin."
  • The Justice Department clearly concluded that whatever sources and methods might have been exposed in the startlingly detailed indictment, it was worth it.
  • "[T]he first thing we should say is three cheers to the FBI and to ... Robert Mueller and to everybody that was involved in this — and probably more than just the FBI. This was an incredible achievement, and that will get people's attention ... That's an instance of deterrence."
  • "We were attacked. Our sovereignty was violated. Spies came into our country."

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.