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Facebook Defends Itself Against a New York Times Report

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There is more news coming out of Facebook today, but that’s no surprise.  CEO, Mark Zuckerberg indicated that they were slow to spot election meddling by Russian trolls and that they made some mistakes along the way.  To quote Facebook, they “stumbled along the way”.  But Zuckerberg pushed back against the report that was published by the New York Times on Wednesday, which raised questions about how the company handled a number of scandals over the last year or two.  Further, Zuckerberg has indicated that he will not step down.

“To suggest we weren’t interested in knowing the truth or wanted to hide what we knew or wanted to prevent investigations is simply untrue.”

Let’s assume for a moment that Zuckerberg is telling the truth.  When it comes to words versus actions, which do you believe more?  Do you believe your partner who says that he/she will be faithful, but then cheats?  Words are one thing, but when it comes to proving yourself, you have to be able to back it up.  I’m not saying that Zuckerberg or Facebook should be compared to infidelity, but I do think that we should think about what has been done and compare the words to the actions.

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an investigative report that shined a harsh spotlight onto how Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have both dealt with election meddling by Russian operatives and the Cambridge Analytica scandal that followed soon afterward.  In the report, it says that both Zuckerberg and Sandberg “ignored warnings, deflected blame and were distracted by other projects as scandals mounted over the past three years”.

But Facebook has pushed back against this report, claiming in a blog post that the report contains “a number of inaccuracies”.  Of course, they’re going to say that.  I mean, even if they did have some problems during that time, would they even admit to it?  In a statement that came out after the report, Facebook’s board of directors indicates that they stand behind the company’s current leadership.  I mean, that is a bit surprising as they could have come out and said off with his head… but they are standing behind him.  The board of directors indicates:

“As Mark and Sheryl made clear to Congress, the company was too slow to spot Russian interference and too slow to take action. As a board, we did indeed push them to move faster. But to suggest that they knew about Russian interference and either tried to ignore it or prevent investigations into what happened is grossly unfair.”

The report also outlined some of their internal struggles and its lobbying attempts in Washington.  It said Facebook hired a Republican opposition-research firm, Definers Public Affairs, which tried to link anti-Facebook sentiment to billionaire George Soros. Definers circulated a research document and pressed reporters to look at financial ties between Soros and groups that protested Facebook at congressional hearings in July, the Times said.  Facebook has since ended its contract with Definers since the report appeared.  Which definitely makes you wonder what they were up to.

All that said, this is just another story for Facebook to tell.  Good or bad, they’re making the news a lot these days.