Report reveals Facebook’s aggressive strategies to deflect criticism away from itself
The truth can be as strange as social media, it seems, according to a report published Wednesday by the New York Times about Facebook Inc.’s internal affairs.
One takeaway from that report was an order Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg had issued which demanded that his staff use only Android phones. That came after Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook had criticized Facebook over privacy after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In the interview that apparently “infuriated” Zuckerberg, Cook said Apple wasn’t in the business of exploiting its own customers by collecting as much data from them as was possible. “We’re not going to traffic in your personal life,” Cook said. “Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty.”
That rubbed Zuckerberg the wrong way, and apparently he told his staff that the Android operating system was used by far more people and so it was time to hang up the iPhone. It seems, however, some executives at the company still carried on using iPhones.
It was also reported that Facebook had expanded its relationship with the public relations firm Definers Public Affairs in an effort to downplay Russian interference on the platform and also churn out stories that put Google LLC and Apple in an unfavorable light.
Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg apparently was in charge of trying to lessen the impact of the scandals at the company. According to the report, she oversaw a campaign to “discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros.”
More than 50 people had come forward to talk about these aggressive moves during Facebook’s tumultuous year, the Times said. Those people included Facebook executives, other staff, lobbyists, lawmakers, government officials and congressional staff members.
“This has been a tough time at Facebook and our entire management team has been focused on tackling the issues we face,” Facebook said in a statement when approached by the Times. “While these are hard problems, we are working hard to ensure that people find our products useful and that we protect our community from bad actors.”
Update: Facebook Thursday issued a statement claiming “inaccuracies” in the New York Times article, including the timing of its knowledge of Russian misinformation campaigns and the nature of its public relations efforts concerning George Soros.
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