Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg asked the company’s communications staff to research Democratic mega-donor George Soros in January, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
In an email Sandberg requested Facebook’s policy and communications executives probe Soros’ financial interests after the billionaire called tech giants a “menace” to society during a World Economic Forum speech, The Hill writes.
The revelation about Sandberg’s request comes a week after Facebook admitted that it hired consulting firm Definers to investigate Soros’s criticisms of the tech behemoth.
Sandberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have come under heavy fire following a Times report that found Definers sought to delegitimize group of anti-Facebook activists by linking them to Soros.
Soros has long been a central figure in right-wing conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic attacks, with extremists claiming that Soros manipulates the media and the world economy. Sandberg originally claimed that she was not aware of any of the work that Definers did for Facebook, but last week back-tracked, saying that some Definers-related papers had come across her desk.
Sandberg’s email requesting information on Soros came before Facebook hired Definers, the Times reported. In a statement to Buzzfeed News, Facebook said it had already been investigating Soros when Sandberg requested that some communications staff look into his background.
“As Elliot said last week, we researched potential motivations behind George Soros’s criticism of Facebook in January 2018,” a Facbeook spokesman told Buzzfeed News. “Mr. Soros is a prominent investor and we looked into his investments and trading activity related to Facebook.”
“That research was already underway when Sheryl sent an email asking if Mr. Soros had shorted Facebook’s stock. But as she said before, she takes full responsibility for any activity that happened on her watch,” the spokesman added.