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Late November, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told communications staff to carry out a research request. It was to looking into the financial interests of George Soros, a liberal billionaire.
Specifically, Sandberg asked for info in January via email to senior communications and policy executives. As for the specifics of the request they were to look into Soros’ criticisms along with determining if he could gain financially by attacking the platform.
Around that time, Soros bashed both Facebook and Google at the World Economic Forum, calling them both a “menace.” This came at a bad time as Facebook was facing scrutiny from multiple places, particularly the scandal revolving around Russian misinformation campaigns, along with the proliferation of hate speech on the platform itself. So it makes sense to a degree to look into it.
In fact, the company was already looking into Soros before Sandberg even asked about him. They were also researching into an anti-Facebook group called Freedom from Facebook, a group that is growing more and convincing others to leave Facebook.
Their case was further strengthened by early November’s news of its CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sandberg behaviour around the Russian campaigns. Early November it was reported that Zuckerberg and Sandberg both downplayed the internal efforts that Facebook did in assessing the Russian misinformation campaigns even going as far as deflecting public scrutiny and laying it on its competition.
The report that mentioned the downplays by Zuckerberg and Sandberg also mentioned that the company that was involved was anti-Semitic, as well as a Republican-linked opposition research firm that was working on implicating Soros, suggesting that Soros was the man behind the anti-Facebook movement.
Sandberg responded to those allegations stating they weren’t true. She admitted the company was slow in responding to Russian interference however Soros wasn’t involved. In a post on November 15th she stated that she wasn’t aware of Facebook hiring the research group Definers Public Affairs nor the work they did. She further stated that she had “great respect for Soros and to rope him into the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent.”