“Mr. Soros is a prominent investor and we looked into his investments and trading activity related to Facebook. That research was already underway when Sheryl sent an email asking if Mr. Soros had shorted Facebook’s stock,” the spokesperson said. “Sheryl never directed research on Freedom from Facebook. But as she said before she takes full responsibility for any activity that happened on her watch.”
Freedom from Facebook is an anti-Facebook group.
Earlier this month, an extensively reported New York Times article described how CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sandberg downplayed internal efforts to assess Russia’s misinformation campaigns, and then tried to deflect public scrutiny onto Facebook’s competitors instead.
The report added that even as Facebook claimed some criticism of the company was anti-Semitic, a controversial PR firm it worked with was trying to plant the idea that Soros — himself a frequent target of anti-Semitic attacks — was behind the growing anti-Facebook movement.
For her part, Sandberg responded by saying some of the allegations were “simply untrue” but acknowledged that the company was “too slow” to respond to the Russian interference on the site. On Soros, Sandberg said she wasn’t aware that Facebook had hired the PR firm or the work it was doing. “I have great respect for George Soros — and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent,” she added.
Last week, Facebook’s outgoing head of communications and public policy, Elliot Schrage, reportedly took the blame for hiring the PR firm Definers Public Affairs.
Read more about the Times’s report on Sandberg’s request to Facebook staff to research George Soros here.