The Times cites three sources who say Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff, in an email in January, to look into Soros’ financial interests after Soros spoke out against tech companies. According to the Times, the email came days after Soros gave a speech excoriating tech giants like Google and Facebook at the World Economic Forum and calling for their regulation. The goal of Sandberg’s inquiry was to find out whether Soros would benefit financially from the attacks.
The news comes on the heels of the revelation that Facebook hired the Republican-linked firm Definers Public Affairs to conduct campaign-style opposition research into organizations Soros had backed. The organization reportedly distributed a theory linking Soros, who has been a frequent target of right-wing conspiracies, to Freedom From Facebook, a coalition calling for Facebook’s fragmentation.
In a statement to the Times, Facebook said the research into Soros began before his World Economic Forum speech.
“Mr. Soros is a prominent investor and we looked into his investments and trading activity related to Facebook,” the company said. “That research was already underway when Sheryl sent an email asking if Mr. Soros had shorted Facebook’s stock.”