The Latest Allegations Against Facebook: 5 Things You Should Know

November 15, 2018, 2:18 PM UTC

Facebook is in hot water again.

In a blistering report on Wednesday, The New York Times, which conducted interviews with more than 50 people, said that the social network engaged in a variety of activities to undermine critics, deny allegations, and engaged with a public affairs firm to target opponents.

Not surprisingly, the report prompted a response from Facebook, which said that it includes “a number of inaccuracies” on everything from its Russia investigation to a commitment to fighting fake news.

Here’s a look at the major things to know about the Times report and Facebook’s retort:

Russian Meddling on Facebook

According to the Times sources, Facebook knew of Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election in the spring of that year—long before the company has publicly acknowledged knowing of any problems with Russia. The Times said Facebook had no apparatus for detecting meddling and published an “abbreviated blog post” in 2017 that didn’t necessarily share all of the information it might have had on the topic.

Facebook said the assertion that it knew about Russian activity in the spring of 2016 “is not true.” The company added that it did not mention Russia in its blog post because it felt the U.S. Director of National Intelligence should do it.

Repairing Relationships

According to the Times report, Facebook came under fire from both sides of the aisle after the Russian report, leading the company to hire a public affairs firm named Definers. It also decided to support a bill called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which held Internet companies liable for any sex trafficking ads that might be published to its site. Other tech giants were against the bill, but Facebook hoped its support would repair relationships in Washington, according to the report.

Facebook said that its COO Sheryl Sandberg supported the bill and came out in favor of it because of that. The company added that it “faced considerable criticism” for supporting it.

An Apple Battle

There’s no love lost between Facebook and Apple, according to the Times. The report claims Facebook used Definers put out negative articles about Apple and its CEO Tim Cook on privacy. Zuckerberg also responded internally to Cook’s barbs over Facebook’s privacy issues related to the Cambridge Analytica data leak by requiring top executives to ditch iPhones for Android devices, according to the Times.

In a blog post, Facebook said that Zuckerberg himself has disagreed publicly with Cook. The company also said that it’s “long encouraged” its employees to use Android because of its standing as “the most popular operating system in the world.”

George Soros

In the report, the Times‘ sources said that Facebook called on Definers to attack billionaire and activist George Soros by requesting reporters investigate his financial dealings and possible connection to an anti-Facebook organization called Freedom from Facebook.

In a statement to reporters, Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which makes grants for civil society groups, said that it issued a letter to Sandberg after the Times story was published. The letter says Facebook’s alleged actions “threaten the very values underpinning our democracy.”

Facebook said that Definers did ask reporters to look into Freedom from Facebook’s funding, but denied any claim that it conducted an “anti-Semitic attack” or used Definers “to spread misinformation.”

Donald Trump

When Donald Trump in December 2015 used Facebook to call for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration to the U.S., Zuckerberg “was appalled,” according to the Times. He reportedly asked his aides if Trump had violated the company’s terms of service in hopes of removing Trump from his social network. He had not, the company concluded, and Trump remained.

Facebook said in its blog post that it did see the comments, called them “abhorrent,” but acknowledged that it did not find them to break its Community Standards. The company added, however, that it did not handle Trump’s comments any differently than it would those made by others.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.