Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has an answer to Wednesday’s bombshell allegations in the New York Times that the social media giant neglected Russian meddling in American politics, blocked subsequent investigations, and hired opposition researchers to attack George Soros and the Open Society Foundation, among other things. They are untrue, she says. “The allegations saying I personally stood in the way are also just plain wrong,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Sandberg joined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in claiming not to know about the activities of Definers, the PR firm that promoted investigations of the Open Society Foundation. The Times wrote that Definers had suggested to reporters that they investigate financial connections between Soros and certain anti-Facebook groups. “The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against [Soros] are abhorrent,” Sandberg wrote in her post. Facebook has since terminated the deal with Definers.
Sandberg also wrote that “[i]t was not until after the election that we became aware of the widespread misinformation campaigns run by the IRA,” referring to the Internet Research Agency that’s accused of running ads to stoke divisions in the U.S. ahead of the 2016 election. She also touted that Facebook has since hired more security personnel and invested in new methods to detect and disrupt such campaigns. Facebook on Thursday released a report on removing harmful content.
The gist of The New York Times article is that Facebook’s leaders were too focused on growth to effectively deal with Facebook’s hijacking in elections, and that when outsiders began asking questions, Zuckerberg, Sandberg, and others went on the offensive.
“We failed to look and try to imagine what was hiding behind corners,” Elliot Schrage, a former Facebook vice president for global communications, marketing and public policy told the New York Times.