Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg under fire over mishandling Russian meddling

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Report: Facebook Hired Firm to Smear Critics

Even Mark Zuckerberg is acknowledging that social media hasn't been all good.

George Soros speaks during a forum at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Washington on September 24, 2011.

Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, attends the Cannes Lions Festival 2017, June 22, 2017, in Cannes, France.

The note also addresses how Facebook will approach challenges algorithmic bias, the idea that sensationalist news is some of the content people engage the most with, proactive content removal, regulation, and more.

Facebook's announcement underscored the company's struggles to uncover hate speech and bullying amid a rising tide of what some call "racist, sexist and anti-Semitic content online", the Washington Post reported.

This summer, with anti-Facebook sentiment growing in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other fiascos, the social media company had a public relations firm it had hired attempt to pin the blame on Soros for the growing Freedom from Facebook movement, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

When criticism of its belated Russian Federation admission grew, Facebook mounted a lobbying campaign led by Sandberg.

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As news of Facebook's use of Definers reached Capitol Hill, one senator implied that Facebook's efforts to push back against critics may add to the company's woes.

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.

"I want to be clear, I mentioned a couple of times I was not in the loop on some of these decisions, and Sheryl was also not involved and she learned about this the same time as I did", Zuckerberg said. But to suggest that we weren't interested in knowing the truth or that we wanted to hide what we knew or that we tried to prevent investigations is simply untrue. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic. "I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have".

The accusations were made by Open Society Foundations, a non-profit group founded by Mr Soros, following an investigation into Facebook's alleged use of underhand and aggressive tactics created to divert attention away from its own scandals. At Facebook's behest, Definers Public Affairs distributed to reporters a research report that accused Soros of quietly backing anti-Facebook groups and urged them to dig into the alleged financial connections between those groups and the businessman, The Times reported.

"We urge Facebook to stop engaging in practices inspired by the enemies of democracy across the globe", said a statement from foundation president Patrick Gaspard.

While it would be all too easy to take this as another instance of tech gossip exaggeration - something that tends to happen a lot in Silicon Valley - a statement released by Facebook today very bizarrely all but confirmed the Times' story.

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