Facebook has admitted that it hired Washington.-based public relations firm, Definers to target US investor and philanthropist, George Soros, who allegedly funded an anti-Facebook grassroots coalition in the US called “Freedom from Facebook”. In an official post, Facebook’s former Head of Communications and Policy Elliot Schrage took responsibility for hiring the firm, which distributed documents to the press that indicated Soros was funding several of the coalition members.
The move comes after a New York Times claimed in an investigative article that Facebook hired Definers to “discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros”. The NYT article reveals how Facebook and its management team handled the fake news crisis, Russian interference in US elections, and Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.
Elliot’s post was followed by a comment by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg who said that she did not remember “a firm called Definers” as she only received a small number of emails where the firm was referenced. She also clarified that the attack on Soros was not intended “to play into an anti-Semitic narrative” against him or anyone else”, something that fueled negative perception about Soros. “Being Jewish is a core part of who I am and our company stands firmly against hate,” Sandberg said in the post.
Definers, which was hired by Facebook in 2017, was also asked to do work on its competitors, though Schrage denied that the firm was ever asked to distribute or create fake news.
The NYT article also alleged that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ordered his management team to only use Android phones and give up iPhones, because of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments which were critical of the social media company. The article was followed by an official statement from the social media company which said it encouraged its employees to use Android because it is “the most popular operating system in the world” and not because of Cook’s comments.