Zuckerberg 'Didn't Know' Facebook Hired PR Firm That Reportedly Smeared Soros

Facebook Mark Zuckerburg Data Privacy Scandal

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg weighed in on the recent explosive New York Times article that reported the social network carried out a campaign to discredit those who criticized how it handled Russian interference and disinformation.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer Cheryl Sandberg, were both so bent on growing the company that they "ignored warning signs and then sought to hide them from public view", the report said.

"We've acknowledged publicly on many occasions-including before Congress-that we were too slow to spot Russian interference on Facebook, as well as other misuse", Facebook said in a statement that rebuts the major accusations in the story.

In response to the recent New York Times report, Facebook just announced that it was going to take important steps in curtailing misinformation.

To deflect blame against Facebook, Definers also operated a conservative news site that was publishing articles critical of Google and Apple, and playing down the impact of Russia's attempts to exploit Facebook.

Before and since this month's midterm elections, which saw the Democrats retake control of the House of Representatives, Facebook has shut down dozens of accounts on its own platform and on Instagram which it said were aimed at influencing the vote.

His comments came hours after the NYT said that Definers had attempted to cast billionaire George Soros as the founder of anti-Facebook groups such as Freedom from Facebook and urged reporters to look into the financial connections between Soros and these groups.

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Soros, who is often the target of anti-Semitism, has been critical of Facebook before.

"It is disappointing to see how you have failed to monitor hate and misinformation on Facebook's platform", he wrote in an open letter.

In contrast to Facebook's pledges in years gone by to simply "make the world more open and connected", and long-held tech industry assumptions that good speech will triumph over bad in the marketplace of ideas, Zuckerberg agreed that sensationalist, damaging posts can engage more users than positive content. Following the report, some USA lawmakers were already calling for more regulation of Facebook.

"Me personally, I didn't know we were working with them", Zuckerberg said during today's Q&A. "To now learn that you were active in promoting these distortions is beyond the pale".

These efforts appear to have been part of a deliberate strategy to distract from the very real accountability problems your company continues to grapple with.

"As you know, there is a concerted right-wing effort the world over to demonize Mr. Soros and his foundations, which I lead-an effort which has contributed to death threats and the delivery of a pipe bomb to Mr. Soros' home". The OSF's director, Patrick Gaspard, described the purported smear campaign as "reprehensible" and "threatening the very values underpinning our democracy".

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