David Magerman: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

David Magerman

TorahCafe David Magerman is a millionaire ex-hedge fund executive funding a campaign to break up Facebook.

David Magerman is a millionaire former hedge fund executive who is funding an effort to break up Facebook. He previously worked at Reinassance Technology and sued his boss, Donald Trump money man Robert Mercer, for firing him when he publicly spoke out against Mercer’s political views.

Magerman is the formerly-anonymous donor behind “Freedom From Facebook,” a high-profile campaign to lobby government regulators to break up the social media giant, Axios reported. Magerman has donated more than $400,000 to the campaign.

Magerman went public after The New York Times reported that a right-leaning consulting firm hired by Facebook attempted to tie the campaign to Democratic donor George Soros.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” Magerman told Axios in response to the Times story, adding that Soros was an “easy target” because he “has had the courage to put his name behind major efforts around the world.”

“I’m not generally someone who seeks publicity, and I saw no value in announcing my involvement,” he added. “That said, I am proud of what Freedom from Facebook has accomplished, and I am proud to be associated with it.”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. David Magerman Accused Trump Donor Robert Mercer of Racism

Jane Mayer on Robert Mercer & the Dark Money Behind Trump and Bannon's Radical Visiondemocracynow.org – We look at Robert Mercer, the man who is said to have out-Koched the Koch brothers in the 2016 election. The secretive billionaire hedge-fund tycoon, along with his daughter Rebekah, is credited by many with playing an instrumental role in Donald Trump’s election. "The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution," Trump’s…2017-03-23T15:31:48.000Z

Magerman made headlines in 2017 when he sued Robert Mercer, the secretive hedge fund billionaire who helped fund the campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, financially backed the conservative news outlet Breitbart, and engineered Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon’s ascent into the Trump inner circle.

Mercer also owns the investment management firm Renaissance Technologies, where Magerman worked for nearly 20 years creating algorithms that he says earned the company billions, Philadelphia Magazine reported.

After The Wall Street Journal reported on Mercer and his daughter Rebekah’s close ties to Trump, Magerman called to express his concerns. According to the lawsuit, Mercer made the following points on the call:

a) The United States began to go in the wrong direction after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s

b) African Americans were doing fine in the late-1950s and early-1960s before the Civil Rights Act

c) The Civil Rights Act “infantilized” African Americans by making them dependent on government and removing any incentive to work

d) The only racist people remaining in the United States are black

e) White people have no racial animus toward African Americans anymore, and if there is any, it is not something that the government should be concerned with

After Magerman raised concerns about the call to another executive, he claims Mercer told him on a call, “I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist.”

During that call, Magerman claimed, “Mercer cited research showing that the Civil Rights Act hurt African Americans.”

2. David Magerman Sued Robert Mercer for Wrongful Termination

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According to a lawsuit, Magerman asked the company’s officers if he could go public with his criticism.

“I have great respect for Bob Mercer as a manager and as a brilliant scientific thinker, and I have no plans to defame him or Rebekah frivolously or with malice,” Magerman wrote in an email that was submitted to the court. “Nonetheless, the Mercers’ public and blatant support for the Trump candidacy, presidency and agenda has cast a taint on all Renaissance employees, including myself. To disallow employees to politely and honestly, but publicly, respond to this taint, and to prevent us from disavowing it in as public a forum as he has been allowed to promote it, is frankly unfair and untenable.”

Magerman claimed that the company’s chief compliance officer approved of him going public and Magerman echoed his comments in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. One day later he was suspended without pay. A month later he ran into the Mercers at a charity poker event where Rebekah Mercer called him “pond scum,” according to Bloomberg. One week later he was fired.

Magerman sued Mercer for wrongful termination. He later dropped the lawsuit and did not specify a reason, Bloomberg reported.

3. David Magerman is Putting Pressure on Lawmakers to Crack Down on Facebook

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According to Axios, Magerman was the first donor to back the “Freedom From Facebook” campaign. He put in $200,000 initially and has now given the campaign $425,000. Magerman said he is funding the campaign because he believes the company has too much power over the world’s communications.

He told Axios that Facebook had a “huge financial disincentive to protect users’ data.”

“By combining social media, news distribution, advertising, commerce, and business and political networking, it forces people to engage in its platform, even if they only want one of its offerings,” he said, comparing Facebook’s algorithms to something out of the Goerge Orwell novel “1984.”

“It was my goal to convince people that Facebook is not free, that it exacts a high price from users in the form of their private data, and I think users don’t understand that transaction, to all of our detriment,” he added.

Axios noted that while Magerman has donated $425,000 to the effort, Facebook spent about $11.5 million on lobbying federal lawmakers just last year.

4. Facebook Under Fire For Tacticts

Facebook reportedly delayed revealing Russia's election interferenceFacebook is facing renewed public scrutiny after a New York Times investigation revealed the company delayed sharing evidence of Russia-linked activity on the site prior to the 2016 election. New York Times technology reporter Cecilia Kang discusses her team's reporting about the roles played by Facebook's two top executives, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.2018-11-15T16:49:24.000Z

The campaign clearly has Facebook concerned. Facebook hired Definers Public Affairs and worked with their Silicon Valley branch, run by former Jeb Bush spokesman Tim Miller. Definers operatives, The New York Times reported, handed documents to reporters trying to cast Soros as the anonymous funder of the anti-Facebook movement. The Times reported:

Definers pressed reporters to explore the financial connections between Mr. Soros’s family or philanthropies and groups that were members of Freedom from Facebook, such as Color of Change, an online racial justice organization, as well as a progressive group founded by Mr. Soros’s son. (An official at Mr. Soros’s Open Society Foundations said the philanthropy had supported both member groups, but not Freedom from Facebook, and had made no grants to support campaigns against Facebook.)

Definers also circulated research about other critics of Facebook, such as Diamond and Silk, the pro-Trump social media stars who had claimed they were treated unfairly by Facebook.

Facebook admitted in a statement that “Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of ‘Freedom from Facebook,’ an anti-Facebook organization” but added that “the intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company. To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue.”

5. Mark Zuckerberg Tries to Distance Himself From Scandal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responds to NYT storyCNBC's Julia Boorstin reports on a conference call with Facebook about a New York Times piece that alleged the company mismanaged the Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election.2018-11-15T19:54:58.000Z

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call that he had only learned about the company’s work with Definers in The Times piece.

“I got on the phone with our team, and we are no longer working with this firm,” he said, according to CNN.

Facebook said in an earlier statement that “The New York Times is wrong to suggest that we ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook’s behalf – or to spread misinformation. Our relationship with Definers was well known by the media – not least because they have on several occasions sent out invitations to hundreds of journalists about important press calls on our behalf.”

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