Soros group slams Facebook, calling it ‘active in promoting’ hate and misinformation

On Capitol Hill Mark Zuckerberg represented a company that wasn't so naive about politics after all

The firm, Definers Public Affairs, sent a research document to reporters that accused Soros of backing the anti-Facebook groups behind the scenes.

Facebook on Thursday denied allegations in the New York Times that it tried to mislead the public about its knowledge of Russian misinformation ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but severed links with a Republican consultancy.

Facebook held a conference call with journalists today, in part to address damning revelations in Wednesday's New York Times story about the company's slow response to the hijack of its social network by Russian operatives. "To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue".

"Our research suggests that no matter where we draw the lines for what is allowed, as a piece of content gets close to that line, people will engage with it more on average - even when they tell us afterwards they don't like the content", Zuckerberg wrote. The story, based on interviews with more than 50 people, makes the case that Zuckerberg and Sandberg "ignored warning signs" that Russians were exploiting the platform, "then sought to hide them from public view".

This type of firm might be normal in Washington, but it's not the sort of thing I want Facebook associated with.

While the Times noted that Soros was a favorite bete noire of anti-Semites, it did not characterize the actions of Facebook or Definers as anti-Semitic.

The social network said it is making strides in proactively identifying hate speech, saying it's able to remove the majority of posts before users report them.

In fact, the Times said, for over a year Facebook had amassed evidence of Russian activity through an investigation led by its former security chief, Alex Stamos.

Stamos, who is now a Stanford University faculty member, said his probe did find a link to Russian Federation in the first half of 2016 but that his investigation was not quashed. "I failed to prepare my employer for the disinformation campaign and that is on me".

CEO Mark Zuckerberg published an extensive Facebook post, which he labeled his blueprint for content governance and enforcement, that lay out his strategy for keeping people safe on the company's platforms.

And when the scope of the problem became clear, Sandberg then oversaw an aggressive lobbying campaign to not only undermine its critics but to shift public anger toward rivals such as Google, according to the story.

The Open Society Foundation founded by Soros meanwhile called for an independent probe of Facebook's tactics.

Facebook ended its relationship with Definers yesterday, following backlash from the public as well as from the president of the Open Societies Foundation: one of the groups run by Soros, who has been a frequent target of anti-semitic conspiracy theories.

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the a year ago, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook's critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation.

The world's most popular social media platform has been on the back foot for months, including over the allegation that data from millions of Facebook users was abused by the consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help drive Donald Trump to the White House.

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