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Controversial digital ad firm gearing up for 2020 by launching a social media-based news agency

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A Denver-based advertising company is already getting involved in 2020 U.S. Senate races, after its political ads came under scrutiny in the midterm cycle last year.

MotiveAI, which has backing from billionaire LinkedIn chairman Reid Hoffman, has set up a new social media-based news agency called Versa that will create videos analyzing news stories for Facebook and Instagram and paid ads that promote progressive reporting by other outlets, reported The Daily Beast.

Versa has already set up three Facebook pages focused on Arizona, Colorado and Kentucky, with plans aimed at five or six other states.

“I don’t think we’re positioning Versa as the vehicle to deliver Democratic wins,” said MotiveAI chief executive Dan Fletcher. “But I do think there’s going to be a lot of media misinformation that happens within these states because of this cycle, and standing up a trusted, transparent media property in the two years before the cycle, and before all that activity starts to happen, is a good defensive mechanism.”

Fletcher said the company is raising money “internally,” and some senior staff members have come on board from Upworthy.

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Four limited liability companies associated with MotiveAI set up nearly 50 Facebook pages, with names sounding like news organizations, to purchase ads last year, targeting specific demographics with paid ads that promoted progressive and Democratic messages, while others targeted specific groups such as veterans, Christians and gun owners.

Some of the ads, such as one page called Drain The Swamp, promoted conspiracy theories claiming that Brett Kavanaugh, who was then facing a poisonous Supreme Court confirmation battle, had helped Bill and Hillary Clinton cover up the murder of a White House aide.

Another page, called The Keg Bros, made sexist comments about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer.

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MotiveAI claimed credit after the 2018 election for Democratic gains in the House, saying the company had produced more than 260 videos and at least 5,000 individual ads, and promised to do more in the 2020 cycle. But this time around, they will be changing their approach.

The company has faced criticism and investigation over their allegedly misleading ad campaigns, and Fletcher promises that a “strict firewall” will separate Versa from MotiveAI.

“What I learned from the experience in the fall was that people on Facebook have an expectation of more transparency from where their political info or news is coming from,” Fletcher said. “We’re not trying to hide who’s behind it, and the positioning of it is we’re going to put out all the information about what we believe and what we want to see happen and you’ll either trust us or you won’t.”


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Cop says Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be shot following Trump’s racist targeting of The Squad

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Following racist attacks on members of The Squad by President Donald Trump and his supporters, a police officer in Louisiana reportedly said that one of the congresswomen of color should be shot.

Trump has been lashing out at the four first-term congresswomen, who include Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

"A Gretna police officer posted a comment on his Facebook page this past week calling U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a 'vile idiot' who 'needs a round, and I don't mean the kind she used to serve,'" NOLA reported Saturday.

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Internet piles on ABC reporter for lavishing praise on Trump for allowing press to ask questions

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ABC News reporter Kyra Phillips on Saturday heaped praise on President Donald Trump for his treatment of the press.

Despite the White House no longer holding daily press briefings, Phillips praised the "access" she receives from the administration.

"No matter what your politics are, I have to say that I appreciate the access ?Trump? gives us on a regular basis and the ability to ask any question," she said.

She tagged Stephanie Grisham in her tweet, who is Trump's latest press secretary. She also tagged her husband, John Roberts, who does not work in the White House, but works for Fox News.

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The real problem wasn’t the racism — it was the Trump taking ‘the Lord’s name in vain’ twice: supporter

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President Donald Trump was widely condemned after supporters at a campaign rally in West Virginia turned his racist "go back" message into a "Send Her Back" chant against one of a woman of color in Congress.

One Trump supporter in West Virginia also criticized the speech, but not for the racist targeting of Rep. Ilhan Omar.

State Senator Paul Hardesty, a Democrat, wrote to the White House to complain about Trump's use of the word "goddamn."

The letter was republished by the Montgomery-Herald.

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