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15 Nov 2018

Graham Kates, CBS News

George Soros' foundation blasts "Facebook’s smear campaign"

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The Times reports in the article that after news of the [Russian] meddling [into the 2016 election] broke, Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm, Definers Public Affairs, "to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros," while "lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic." In the letter to Sandberg, Patrick Gaspard, president of Soros' nonprofit Open Society Foundations, accuses Facebook of promoting "distortions" about Soros.

... Facebook did not respond to an email from CBS News seeking a response directly related to Gaspard's letter. In a statement released by Facebook... the company pushed back against The New York Times' reporting on its relationship with Definers. "The New York Times is wrong to suggest that we ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook's behalf – or to spread misinformation... Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of 'Freedom from Facebook,' an anti-Facebook organization. The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company."

... [A Definers spokesperson said] "All of our work is based on publicly-available documents and information. The document referenced in the Times story regarding the anti-Facebook organization's potential funding sources was entirely factual and based on public records, including public statements by one of its organizers about receiving funding from Mr. Soros' foundation."