Facebook Calls Damning Report About Its Response to Election Meddling ‘Unfair’
The New York Times on Wednesday published a bombshell report about Facebook’s war against its critics. It was pretty damning. According to the Times, Facebook knew in 2016 that Russia was using its platform to influence the election, did not take down inflammatory posts from Trump about banning Muslim immigrants because the tech giant feared backlash from his supporters and, most notably, COO Sheryl Sandberg organized a wide-ranging lobbying effort to manage the crisis surrounding Facebook’s role in Russia’s election meddling. This plan included hiring a right-wing firm that deliberately linked activist protesters to liberal philanthropist George Soros, who was among a handful of prominent Democratic figures targeted with explosive devices last month.
On Thursday afternoon, Facebook’s board of directors released a statement responding to the report. The board did not outright deny the Times‘ reporting, instead opting to call the idea that they knew about Russian interference and tried to thwart investigations into what happened “grossly unfair.”
BREAK: Facebook board of directors issues statement in response to @nytimes story pic.twitter.com/xnlww1PNbx
— rat king (@MikeIsaac) November 15, 2018
“I’ve said many times that we were too slow to stop Russian interference,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said later on a conference call, according to Times reporter Mike Isaac.” To suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or to hide what we knew … is simply untrue.”
Also revealed in the Times’ report was that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) raised more money from Facebook employees in 2016 than any other member of Congress. As criticism of Facebook mounted in 2017, Schumer pressured Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee that was at the time investigating the company, to slow down the investigation. In addition to raising nearly $40,000 from Facebook employees, Schumer’s daughter works as a marketing manager in the company’s New York office. The lobbying interests hired by Sandberg were aware of Schumer’s advocacy.
Schumer has yet to respond to the Times’ reporting, which was conveniently published hours after he was reelected Senate minority leader.