Facebook hired PR firm to label its critics ‘agents of Soros’

Sergio Conner
November 16, 2018

According to the report, Facebook hired a Republican opposition research firm to discredit activists critical of the social network.

The Times detailed obfuscation by Facebook's top bosses on the Russian Federation front, said the company has at times smeared critics as anti-Semitic or tried to link activists to billionaire investor George Soros, and also tried to shift public anger away toward rival tech companies. "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".

A November 14th, 2018 New York Times report now alleges that Zuckerberg and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly ignored multiple red flags indicating patterns of concern in the wake of the 2016 presidential elections, in favour of growing the company.

Facebook did not respond to an email from CBS News seeking a response directly related to Gaspard's letter.

In a statement Thursday, Facebook told The Post: "It is wrong to suggest that we have ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook's behalf - or to spread misinformation". Facebook complained to the Anti-Defamation League, who called the posters "a classic anti-Semitic trope".

"Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of 'Freedom from Facebook, ' an anti-Facebook organization", the Facebook blog post said.

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The Times said that when criticism of its belated Russian Federation admission grew, Facebook mounted a lobbying campaign led by Sandberg, pushing negative stories about its political critics and making rival companies like Google and Apple look bad.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in January, he had attacked Facebook and Google, describing them as a monopolist "menace" with "neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions".

In statement following the Times story, Facebook said the reporting contained a "number of inaccuracies" but also announced it was parting ways with Definers.

"Tim Cook has consistently criticized our business model and Mark has been equally clear he disagrees", reads an excerpt from the November 15th media release. "A research document circulated by Definers to reporters this summer, just a month after [congressional testimony by Zuckerberg], cast Mr. Soros as the unacknowledged force behind what appeared to be a broad anti-Facebook movement".

As news of Facebook's use of Definers reached Capitol Hill, one senator implied that Facebook's efforts to push back against critics may add to the company's woes.

On the call, Mark Zuckerberg claimed he only found out the group was working for Facebook yesterday-which would mean the CEO learned about his company's dealings well after most reporters.

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