During the 2016 presidential election and Facebook’s activities in this period, many things happened that raised the sensitivity of public opinion. In 2017, a review was carried out in the commercial documents of 19 countries with easy taxation and ownership laws, such as Malta, Virgin Island, and Isle of Man. It revealed that some of these 13.4 million documents are related to commercial-financial activities of Moscow companies involved in the U.S. election. The documents are related to Russian agencies’ investments and known as “Paradise Papers”. The documents exposed unusual activities of companies in technology and IT fields, and Facebook has been the focus of attention as a global media from the beginning.
A review related to main sources of investment in Facebook and Twitter revealed that Yuri Milner’s financial resources and investments in Facebook were supported by Russian public and semi-public companies. Some companies were involved in what Facebook and Twitter been through, such as Gazprom invest holding, VTB Capital, VTB Bank, Kanton Services, as well as Digital Sky Technologies (DST) and DTS Global, now belong to Yuri Milner. Gazprom, one of main powers in kremlin, has invested about $920 million in Facebook. VTB Capital, a foreign investment element of VTB Bank of Russia, has invested $ 191 million in Twitter.
Gazprom and VTB Bank are run by Putin, and also are under the sanction of the U.S. Department of Treasury. These companies intended to more affect public opinion on Facebook and Twitter rather than economic interests during the 2016 election. Mail.ru and Digital Sky Technologies, which have been operating as Mail.ru group since 2011, have been other Milner’s investment resources in the Facebook project.
Mail.ru is the largest social-communication company in Russia founded by Milner, and benefits from extensive relations with Kremlin and Russian security agencies by Alisher Usmanov. It could get to the U.S. technology and public opinion by Silicon Valley’s tech investor Milner. Kanton Services, which was registered in Virgin Island, has been noted by Russian oligarch and one of senior managing director of Gazprom Alisher Usmanov since 2005. It finally were owned by him in 2009 with $ 920 million investment.
Yuri Milner could buy several billion dollars of Facebook stock by his companies, including DTS Investment 3 and DSTUSA2, and through the gained resources from four Russian companies in 2011 to 2012. Kanton Services, with a majority stock in DTSUSA2, eventually took over management and control of Facebook shares trading. It also played an important role in purchasing Twitter shares.
As the Ukrainian conflict began in November 2013, Milner and Usmanov withdrew their shares of $1.7 billion from Facebook. They did so because a part of their investments in Facebook was provided by Russian public companies Gazprom and VTB Bank, and they were fearful of possible future sanctions by the U.S. six months later, on March 6, 2013, Obama imposed his sanctions against Russia due to the occupation of Crimea. Milner withdrew more than $ 5 billion of his shares by timely selling %9 of stock.
In 2011, Milner invested $ 380 million in twitter through his company DTSUSA3, and achieved %5 of twitter’s total stock. At least half of this huge sum was financed through Russia’s second-largest public bank VTB. On May 7, 2014, six month after Twitter’s initial public offering, VT Bank transferred its majority stock to Kanton Services. Then Kanton Services, which is a Russian Intermediate company, and DTS sold their shares on Twitter at the same time. Behind Milner’s investment maze on Facebook and Twitter, there are details that reveal kremlin’s hidden strategic goals using Gazprom and VT Bank.
On the other hand, the controversial advocator of Trump Peter Thiel is related to Facebook’s privacy scandal and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Peter Thiel was one of the first foreign investors in Facebook, who involved in the Facebook project since 2004, and then was elected as a member of board of directors. He invested more in Facebook after entering it.
Thiel also has a friendly relationship with Facebook CEO Zuckerberg. After the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal that led to Zuckerburg’s questioning by the Senate, a strange and strong relationship between Cambridge Analytca and Palantir was revealed. Then it was founded out that these companies collaborating with each other. In this collaboration, Cambridge Analytca could access to the information of more than 87 million users. This work was carried out with the help of Palantir in receiving the data from Facebook and analyzing American audience during the 2016 election in favor of Trump. Cambridge Analytca was shut down after the revelation of this scandal.