Sheryl Sandberg ordered Facebook staff to target George Soros, NYT Reports

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg reportedly asked communications staff to dig up information on George Soros in response to the billionaire liberal donor’s remarks against the social media giant, according to a New York Times report on Thursday.

Citing three people with knowledge of Sandberg’s request, the Times report suggests that the chief operating officer was directly involved in Facebook’s controversial PR campaign against Soros.

Sandberg reportedly made the request in January, days after Soros called Facebook a “menace to society” during a speech at the World Economic Forum.

Facebook is under intense scrutiny after an investigation by the Times revealed that the company hired Definers Public Affairs, a Republican opposition research firm, to discredit anti-Facebook activists by linking them to Soros, a Jewish philanthropist who is often the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories spread by the far-right.

Sandberg previously claimed she was not aware that Facebook had hired Definers and had no knowledge of the type of work they were doing, though she did acknowledge that they were researching organizations who opposed the company.

“I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have,” Sandberg said of Definers. “I have great respect for George Soros ― and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also denied any knowledge of the PR campaign until after the Times investigation was published.

On Nov. 21, Facebook’s head of communications, Elliot Schrage, took the blame for hiring Definers and directing them to research Soros.

“Mark and Sheryl relied on me to manage this without controversy,” Schrage wrote in a statement, noting that he approved the decision to hire Definers “and similar firms.”

“I’m sorry I let you all down,” he added. “I regret my own failure here.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.