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Zuckerberg: I Had No Idea About Anti-Soros Strategy

Sandberg also denies role in hiring firm that linked Facebook protesters to the financier
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2018 7:09 AM CST
In this April 11, 2018, photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Energy and Commerce hearing.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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(Newser) – Mark Zuckerberg went on the defense Thursday after a damning report in the New York Times faulted him and COO Sheryl Sandberg for how they handled the Russian hacking controversy. "The reality of running a company of more than 10,000 people is that you're not going to know everything that's going on," he told reporters, per the Times. The gist of the original story is that Facebook's top two execs were first oblivious to the problem of Russian hackers, then later tried to cover up the story or at least deflect blame from the company. Both Zuckerberg and Sandberg distanced themselves Thursday from one of the more controversial aspects of the story—that Facebook hired a Republican opposition research company that tried to link anti-Facebook protesters to George Soros, reports the Guardian.

"Look, I learned about this reading in the New York Times yesterday," Zuckerberg said. "As soon as I learned about this, I talked to our team and we're no longer working with this firm." The original investigative piece said that Sandberg oversaw Facebook's response to the Russian hacking and thus was responsible for hiring the firm, Definers Public Affairs. But she suggested an underling did the hiring. "I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have," she wrote in a statement. "I have great respect for George Soros—and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent." The president of Soros' Open Society Foundation called Facebook's participation in the effort to go after Soros "reprehensible" and "frankly astonishing." (A Facebook exec's public support of Brett Kavanaugh didn't sit well with critics, either.)

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