After learning that Facebook had looked into ways to discredit investor and philanthropist George Soros, Soros’ organization called for oversight of Facebook.
Facebook “admitted it had hired a research firm to get dirt on the billionaire,” the New York Post reported. Following Soros’ criticism of Facebook and its business model, the social media giant hired Definers Public Affairs.
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“So @facebook decides to drop a turkey on Thanksgiving eve, with admission that Definers was tasked by company leadership to target and smear George Soros because he publicly criticized their out of control business model. Sorry, but this needs independent, congressional oversight,” Patrick Gaspard, president of Soros’ Open Society Foundations, tweeted.
Outgoing Facebook communications chief Elliot Schrage revealed he was responsible for hiring Definers. “In January 2018, investor and philanthropist George Soros attacked Facebook in a speech at Davos, calling us a ‘menace to society,’ ” Schrage said.
Facebook wanted to use the research to paint Soros as part of an anti-Facebook coalition.
“Buzzfeed News obtained a copy of the report that Facebook commissioned from consulting firm Definers Public Affairs, which attempts to link efforts by the ‘Freedom from Facebook’ campaign to liberal philanthropist George Soros,” the Verge reported.
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The move by Facebook first came to light in November due to a New York Times report that revealed that Facebook actually hired “a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros.” Soros has often been a target for alt-right attacks.
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, they didn’t know who hired Definers, and they have cut ties to the group.
But Sandberg has since admitted she was the one who directed Schrage to hire Definers and requested an investigation of Soros.
“Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff to research George Soros’s financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies, according to three people with knowledge of her request, indicating that Facebook’s second in command was directly involved in the social network’s response to the liberal billionaire,” the New York Times reported.
Facebook released a statement: “Mr. Soros is a prominent investor and we looked into his investments and trading activity related to Facebook. That research was already underway when Sheryl sent an email asking if Mr. Soros had shorted Facebook’s stock.” The statement also added that Sandberg “takes full responsibility for any activity that happened on her watch.”
Sandberg: I didn’t know about Definers and Soros.
Sandberg: OK fine I was Cc:d.
Sandberg: It was my idea.
— David Carroll (@profcarroll) November 30, 2018