The New York Times reports that Facebook hired a Republican opposition-research firm, Definers Public Affairs, to link an anti-Facebook movement to liberal donor George Soros and engaged in an effort to paint Facebook critics as anti-Semitic.
While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg conducted a public apology tour, Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg was reportedly behind a lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, deflect Facebook criticism to Google and Apple (via NTK Network articles) and stop potential regulations from Congress, especially anti-trust laws that would break Facebook up.
Current and former Facebook executives told The New York Times that Zuckerberg and Sandberg passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates for the past three years.
During those three years, Russian operatives ran ads on Facebook for Donald Trump, Cambridge Analytica appropriated Facebook user data on American voters, and hackers gained access to the private information of tens of millions of Facebook users.
After an anti-Facebook protest sign depicted Zuckerberg as an octopus encompassing the globe, a Facebook official reportedly called on the Anti-Defamation League to call the sign anti-Semitic.
In response, the Anti-Defamation League tweeted: “Depicting Jews as an octopus encircling the globe is a classic anti-Semitic trope. Protest Facebook—or anyone—all you want, but pick a different image.”
Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia wrote an article for Slate headlined “Facebook Is a Normal Sleazy Company Now,” told Democracy Now how Sandberg is well-connected:
So, while Zuckerberg has been checked out, really doesn’t know what’s going on, Sandberg has been engaged in all sorts of nefarious machinations, leveraging her political and cultural capital, which is substantial, right?
She is one of the most connected people in American corporate life, having worked in the Treasury Department of the Clinton administration, having worked for Larry Summers, having worked at Google, having written several best-selling books, you know, being friends with every major media figure in America.
She has tremendous pull. The person she has most pull with, it seems, is Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York, the most powerful Democrat in the Senate.
The second revelation that was really shocking was that Chuck Schumer approached my senator, Mark Warner, and said, “You need to back off of Facebook. Facebook is a friend of the Democrats. Sandberg is a friend of the Democrats. You need to go easy on it.”
Now, fortunately, my senator cares more about the fate of the republic than he does campaign donations from Facebook, which he wasn’t likely to get anyway. So, he’s been able to make a stand and ignore Schumer.
Not every senator is willing to do that. But I think we can safely assume that because of Schumer’s implications, Schumer’s connections with Facebook, his dependence on Facebook, and the fact that Schumer’s daughter works for Facebook, we probably can’t count on reasonable legislation, regulation coming out of the U.S. Senate anytime soon.
Zuckerberg and Sandberg refused to comment to The New York Times, but a Facebook spokesman released a statement:
This has been a tough time at Facebook and our entire management team has been focused on tackling the issues we face. While these are hard problems we are working hard to ensure that people find our products useful and that we protect our community from bad actors.
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