I knew about Soros smear firm, says Facebook chief

George Soros

George Soros

Facebook has admitted it hired the firm Definers to investigate George Soros.

The head of Mr Soros's grant-making network claimed Facebook had smeared the philanthropist, adding "this needs independent, congressional oversight".

Ms Sandberg added to Mr Schrage's post by saying that as she oversees Facebook's communications teams, she takes "full responsibility" for their work.

Elliot Schrage, a Facebook official who leads their Communication and Policy team, took responsibility Wednesday for establishing the company's relationship with Definers, a public relations firm he confirmed was asked to look into billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Definers, which was hired by Facebook in 2017, was also asked to do work on its competitors, though Schrage denied that the firm was ever asked to distribute or create fake news.

Through the Open Society Foundation, Mr Soros has contributed to numerous liberal political causes, including making a £400,000 donation to anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain.

"It's important for Facebook to recognise that this isn't a public relations problem - it's a fundamental challenge for the platform and their business model", Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Washington Post this week.

"That was certainly not a part of the conversation that I had", he said.

Sandberg, who had previously stated that she had no recollection of working with Definers, also revealed that a check of what had crossed her desk showed that Definers was mentioned in some material and in a "small number" of emails she received.

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Responding to Schrage's memo, Sandberg wrote, "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".

'Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts to address a lot of the biggest issues that we have, and she's been an important partner for me for 10 years and I'm really proud of the work that we've done together, ' Mr Zuckerberg said.

In an interview with CNN late on Tuesday, he said this was not the time for him to quit as Facebook shares ended at $132.43 - down 40 per cent from its peak in July.

She had reportedly angered "many people" within her firm by attempting to distance herself from the controversy, according to an earlier report by the Wall Street Journal, which said she had a reputation for closely managing Facebook's media strategies.

In a latest development, the Facebook CEO Mark Zucherberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have now asked Nick Clegg, former UK Deputy Prime Minister and new Head of Global Policy and Communications, to review all the work with communications consultants.

But Mr Schrage provided no evidence that Mr Soros was more directly involved in the campaign. "I should have known of the decision to expand their mandate".

His memo did, however, touch on the fact that Facebook has become prone to leaks.

"I regret my own failure here", he continued.

"This is a serious threat to our culture and ability to work together in hard times". Zuckerberg said Facebook stopped using Definers the day the New York Times story was published.

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