Facebook Admits Hiring Conservative PR Firm to Attack George Soros

Facebook Admits Hiring Conservative PR Firm to Attack George Soros

Facebook admitted to hiring a conservative public relations firm to attack liberal billionaire donor George Soros after the New York Times reported on their attempts to discredit critics last week.

Outgoing Facebook policy chief Elliot Schrage confirmed that Times’ report in a blog post but appeared to try and distance CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg from the scandal.

Schrage admitted that the social media giant hired Definers Public Affairs and worked with former Jeb Bush aide Tim Miller to dig up dirt on Facebook’s critics. The Times reported that the firm tried to fuel anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Soros.

"I believe it would be irresponsible and unprofessional for us not to understand the backgrounds and potential conflicts of interest of our critics," wrote Schrage. "This work is also useful to help respond to unfair claims where Facebook has been singled out for criticism, and to positively distinguish us from competitors."

"When the 'Freedom from Facebook' campaign emerged as a so-called grassroots coalition, the team asked Definers to help understand the groups behind them," he wrote. "They learned that George Soros was funding several of the coalition members. They prepared documents and distributed these to the press to show that this was not simply a spontaneous grassroots movement."

Sandberg tries to distance herself from anti-Semitism allegations: "It was never anyone's intention to play into an anti-Semitic narrative against Mr. Soros or anyone else,” the Facebook COO wrote in an addendum to the blog post. "Being Jewish is a core part of who I am and our company stands firmly against hate. The idea that our work has been interpreted as anti-Semitic is abhorrent to me — and deeply personal."

Actual Freedom From Facebook funder comes forward: After the Times report, the anonymous donor behind the campaign to get Facebook regulated by the government revealed himself as David Magerman, a millionaire hedge fund executive who had a public and legal battle with his boss Robert Mercer, the man who bankrolled Ted Cruz’s and Donald Trump’s campaigns as well as Steve Bannon’s Breitbart.

Soros calls for Facebook probe: Michael Vachon, a top aide to Soros, responded to the report by calling for an independent probe of the social network.

“What else is Facebook up to?” Vachon said. “The company should hire an outside expert to do a thorough investigation of its lobbying and PR work and make the results public.”