Facing scrutiny, Facebook hired a hit job service to attack outsiders
its relationship with a Washington-based public relations firm last
year that wrote dozens of articles critical of rivals Google and Apple
and pushed the idea that liberal financier George Soros was behind a
growing anti-Facebook movement, according to a scathing Wednesday
report by the New
Facebook expanded its relationship with Definers Public Affairs in
October 2017 after enduring a year's worth of external criticism over
its handling of Russian interference on its social network, according
to the report.
The firm reportedly wrote articles that blasted Google and Apple
while downplaying the impact of Russian interference on Facebook.
Those articles were published on NTK Network, an affiliate of the firm
whose content is often followed by politically conservative outlets,
including Breitbart, the report says.
Definers Public Affairs also reportedly pressed reporters to explore
Soros' financial connections with groups that protested Facebook at
Congressional hearings in July.
Facebook's relationship with Definers Public Affairs were outlined as
part of a broader report that looked at the company's handling of
numerous scandals over the past three years, including Russian
interference and the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March. Other
revelations in the report include Sheryl Sandberg's apparent fury when
former security chief Alex Stamos told the board of directors in fall
2017 about the full extent of Russian interference on the platform,
and Mark Zuckerberg ordering managers to use Android phones after
Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized the company's approach to privacy
earlier this year.
In a blog
post published early Thursday morning, Facebook said it ended
its relationship with Definers Wednesday night. The company also
denied that it asked Definers to write articles. Facebook said in the
blog post that Definers to asked journalists to look into the
organization Freedom from Facebook, which Facebook says is funded by
"a well-known critic" of the company. The company said the suggestion
that Definers' work "was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and
the full New York Times report here.
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