×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook ‘Absolutely Did Not Pay Anyone to Create Fake News’

Embattled Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has strongly denied that the company engaged a PR firm to smear rivals and creative fake news about the social media giant that has been at the center of the national storm about fake news.

CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell landed the first interview with Sandberg following a damning New York Times expose about Facebook’s handling of its many crises during the past few years. The story, published Thursday, painted Sandberg as out of touch with some of the company’s operations and primarily concerned behind-the-scenes about protecting her reputation from scandal as well as that of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“We absolutely did not pay anyone to create fake news – that they have assured me was not happening. And again, we’re doing a thorough look into what happened, but they have assured me that we were not paying anyone to either write or promote anything that was false. And that’s very important,” Sandberg told O’Donnell in a telephone interview Thursday night. Sandberg also commented on the allegations in the Times story in a Facebook post published late Thursday.

The Times reported that Facebook hired the PR and opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs to help protect the company from the mushrooming Russian election interference controversy. According to the Times, Facebook also engaged in an effort to link critics of the company to George Soros, the billionaire financier who is a frequent target of anti-Semitic anger and conspiracy theories.

Sandberg said she was unaware of the PR firm’s work for the company until it was revealed by the Times. She said the decision was made by the company’s “communications team” and that she is trying to gather the details. She resisted when pressed by O’Donnell if the company would initiate an investigation by an outside firm.

“They were hired not to smear anyone. Not to get any articles written or do anything false. I learned of that in the paper yesterday as well, when Mark did,” Sandberg said. “And they’re gone, and we’re looking into what happened there. I don’t have full details. But I will say that if there was anything that you know inadvertently or advertently played into any anti-Semitic attacks on anyone, that’s a problem. And I have a lot of respect for George Soros. So I’m looking into it.”

Sandberg told O’Donnell she believes she still has the confidence of Zuckerberg as well as the company’s rank-and-file to remain in her post.

“I have a really important job, it’s a job I love and a job I’m honored to do and I think a really deep responsibility to Mark and to the company to help get us into a better place,” Sandberg said. “I think if you look at the track record from the 2016 election to this one, you see the work is never done. But you see major improvements. We didn’t know about foreign interference in 2016, but now we know. We are systematically finding it. We’re working closely with government, we are systematically finding foreign interference from Iran, reportedly from Russia, from spammers, and we are systematically taking it down, notifying and working with law enforcement, working with other companies. And we’re doing it. Not just for the U.S. election but for elections around the world.”

More Biz

  • Guy Moot

    Is Sony/ATV’s Guy Moot Headed for Top Job at Warner/Chappell?

    Ever since Jon Platt announced in September that he will be stepping down from his post at the helm of Warner/Chappell Publishing to take the top job at Sony/ATV when Martin Bandier’s contract is up at the end of March, speculation has been rife about who will take over for him. One name has been [...]

  • The King Eric Clapton A Life

    Rashida Jones, Lili Zanuck Talk Grammy Nominations and the Music-Documentary Gold Rush

    Nothing takes you back to time and a place like the music of a particular era. That’s one big reason why music documentaries are flourishing at a time of enormous demand for high-end docu productions. This year’s five Grammy Award nominees for best music film reflect the appetite for stories about renowned and beloved musical figures, [...]

  • il bussetto best business card holder

    Office-Appropriate Gifting: The Best Gifts For Your Colleagues and Bosses

    You can do better than a handshake or bottle of wine to wish your boss a Happy Holiday this season. Here are 10 gifts that show your appreciation for your colleagues or manager, while also helping you stand out from the card and cookie-wielding pack. 1. Personalized Beer Growler Whether they are using it for [...]

  • viceroy-los-cabos-review

    Winter Hotel Guide: Where The Stars Stay in Los Angeles, New York and Beyond

    Whether for a business meeting, a private event, or an intimate celebration for family and friends, these are the hotels that Hollywood keeps on its list. From storied properties that are rich in film and fashion lore, to new players on the hospitality scene, here’s where to book your next stay. 1. Hotel Shangri-La (Santa [...]

  • best tech gifts ipad apple

    Retail Analysts Reveal Top Tech Gifts of 2018

    It’s shaping up to be a busy holiday season for tech and electronics companies, as gaming consoles, streaming devices and televisions top the list of most anticipated gifts, according to retail analysts. New data from Adobe Analytics forecasts that the holiday shopping season (the period from November 1 to December 31) will see more than [...]

  • best harry potter gifts art

    Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: The Best Gifts For Harry Potter Fans

    2018 marked a big milestone for “Harry Potter,” as the franchise celebrated the 20th anniversary of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” release in the U.S. Since that first book was summoned onto store shelves, the Wizarding World has become a phenomenon not just in America, but around the world, spawning a successful film franchise, [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein: Accuser Attended Screening on Day of Alleged Rape

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorney is continuing to hammer away his criminal charges, arguing that new evidence shows that one of his accusers attended a screening where Weinstein was present just hours after the alleged rape. In a letter to Judge James Burke on Friday, attorney Ben Brafman says the new evidence comes from a friend of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content