Outgoing Facebook media chief admits Soros was targeted

Facebook admits hiring PR firm to investigate Soros			
				 
   by Daniel Binns 
  Published

Facebook admits hiring PR firm to investigate Soros by Daniel Binns Published

A FACEBOOK executive has admitted it hired a PR firm to investigate billionaire philanthropist George Soros after he was critical of the social network. The admission? They did it.

Elliot Schrage, Facebook's outgoing vice president of communications and public policy, has endured a turbulent end to his decade-long tenure at the social network.

Sandberg said in a comment attached to the bottom of Schrage's post that she initially did not remember hiring the Republican opposition-research firm when she read the New York Times story. The system he set up on the company's communications team "failed here and I'm sorry I let you all down", he wrote.

It was a stunning mea culpa, in which Schrage said there had been a systematic failure within his own team.

"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", Gaspard tweeted.

Definers was hired in 2017 as part of an effort to diversify its advisers in Washington, in the face of growing pressure by competitors and media companies for Facebook to be regulated by the government, Schrage said in a message to co-workers posted online.

Definers has "encouraged journalists" to lean on the financing of a campaign against Facebook to show that it was not a campaign spontaneous, bottom-up, but "that it was supported by a well-known critic of our company", says Facebook, without mentioning George Soros.

'They learned that George Soros was funding several coalition members.

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Facebook has since announced it has terminated its relationship with the firm - with Zuckerberg and the company's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg admitting they should have known more about its operations.

The statement by Patrick Gaspard, president of Open Society Foundations, is the first statement from anyone associated with Soros, who funds a variety of liberal causes but typically stays away from the spotlight.

"Some of their work was incorporated into materials presented to me", Sandberg wrote, "and I received a small number of emails where Definers was referenced".

"But I believe it would be irresponsible and unprofessional for us not to understand the backgrounds and potential conflicts of interest of our critics".

"I also want to emphasize that it was never anyone's intention to play into an anti-Semitic narrative against Mr. Soros or anyone else", she said. "The idea that our work has been interpreted as anti-Semitic is abhorrent to me - and deeply personal", Sandberg clarified.

While some Facebook shareholders and analysts have called for Zuckerberg to step down as chairman, he said Tuesday "That's not the plan".

"She has been an important partner for me for 10 years", Zuckerberg said in the interview. We just hope that some of the more savvy users will finally consider.

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