Review demanded over Facebook’s alleged PR firm smear campaign

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: (GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: (GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
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The head of the foundation created by philanthropist George Soros has called for an independent review into Facebook’s lobbying practices amid allegations the site used a PR firm to undermine its critics.

A New York Times report claimed Facebook used Definers to smear critics of the social network by suggesting not-for-profit anti-Facebook groups were being bankrolled by the billionaire investor.

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Mr Soros, who is Jewish, has been the subject of many unfounded online conspiracy theories, including anti-Semitic claims.

The president of Mr Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Patrick Gaspard, called Facebook’s actions “astonishing” in a letter to the firm’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

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“It’s been disappointing to see how you have failed to monitor hate and misinformation on Facebook’s platform,” he wrote.

“To now learn that you are active in promoting these distortions is beyond the pale.”

Mr Gaspard has since said Ms Sandberg responded to his letter with a phone call in which he asked for a “thorough and independent inquiry on Facebook’s lobbying and PR work”. Facebook’s senior management has claimed it had no knowledge of the company’s relationship with Definers.