Sheryl Sandberg Ordered Facebook Staff To Target George Soros, NYT Reports

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations' use of social media platforms on Capitol Hill

Concerns over how Facebook has reacted to Soros emerged earlier this month in the wake of a New York Times article outlining the ways Definers attempted to deflect criticism of the company. Sandberg reportedly wanted to know whether Soros stood to benefit financially from attacks on the tech mammoths.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Buzzfeed that Sandberg had ordered research into the "motivations" behind Soros' speech and had asked that staff look into his trading of Facebook stock. After a Times report revealed Facebook's payments to the Republican-backed firm, Definers Public Affairs, the company was criticized for propagating anti-Semitism. "Facebook must immediately release any emails and any research about targeting the Freedom from Facebook coalition or any member organizations".

The revelation complicates Sandberg's shifting explanations of her role in Facebook's decisions to hire Definers and go on the offensive against the social network's growing legion of critics.

Firms like Definers usually work to find dirt on the opponents of political candidates or causes, not tech companies.

Soros had given a speech at the World Economic Forum, where he branded Facebook a "menace to society". Facebook said the company was already researching Soros when Sandberg sent an email asking if Soros had shorted Facebook stock.

Schrage joined Zuckerberg and Sandberg in stressing that Definers was not hired to create or spread false stories to help Facebook.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Facebook wanted to deflect some of the mounting criticism it faced after both providing the vehicle for Russian agents to disrupt the USA 2016 presidential election and leaking the personal data of millions of users to the Trump campaign consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Kremlin reacts to canceled Trump-Putin meeting
Peskov said Russian Federation and the US need to discuss strategic stability, arms control and regional conflicts. British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will meet the crown prince and deliver a "very clear" message.

Others defended Sandberg, saying she was correct to look into powerful interests opposing Facebook and noting that Soros - who notoriously made a fortune by betting against the British pound in 1992 - is known as a highly sophisticated investor.

That activity included having the PR firm label several activist groups, Freedom From Facebook and Color of Change, as pawns of Soros.

Sandberg has suggested she was unaware of Facebook's relationship with the firm.

Facebook policy chief Elliot Schrage, who is on his way out anyway, took the fall for the hiring of Definers.

"We were not satisfied with that answer", he said.

Robinson said he was pleased Sandberg had agreed to release a progress report on a previously announced internal audit into how Facebook's policies affected minority users and employees.

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