Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano
Facebook has come under heavy fire in recent years for how they allowed the unchecked spread of fake news and alt-right hate speech,and for their breaches of customer data security — and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for his company’s role in all of this and pledged to do better.
According to a report from The New York Times however – behind the scenes Facebook went on the offensive to try to divert criticism that they had improperly shared data from 87 million users with right-wing strategy firm Cambridge Analytica.
Not only was Facebook unwilling to take responsibility – it reportedly paid an opposition research firm tied to Republicans to go after critics of the company.
And in the process – with the blessing of chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg – this firm engaged in some disgusting smear tactics:
When Facebook users learned last spring that the company had compromised their privacy in its rush to expand – allowing access to the personal information of tens of millions of people to a political data firm linked to President Trump – Facebook sought to deflect blame and mask the extent of the problem.
And when that failed — as the company’s stock price plummeted and sparked a consumer backlash — Facebook went on the attack.
While Mr. Zuckerberg conducted a public apology tour in the last year Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics – shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation.
Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters – in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros.
It also tapped its business relationships – persuading a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.