Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg asked her subordinates to research whether George Soros was shorting the company's stock when he laid into Facebook's "monopolistic" tendencies earlier this year.
Shortly after the speech, Sandberg reportedly emailed staffers to investigate why Soros criticised Facebook, and if he stood to gain anything financially from the attack. 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.
In this September 5 photo, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. "Definers researched this using public information".
"Mr Soros is a prominent investor and we looked into his investments and trading activity related to Facebook", a spokesman said in response to questions from the New York Times, which originally broke the Definers story.
"That research was already underway when Sheryl sent an email asking if Mr. Soros had shorted Facebook's stock". Sandberg, who is also Jewish, denied charges of anti-Semitism. Definers also helped respond to what Schrage described as unfair claims about the company.
This news suggests we still may not know Sandberg's real role in the "dark PR" work Facebook was doing in Washington.
Sandberg wanted to determine whether Soros had a financial incentive to see the company's share price decline, Facebook said in a statement.
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At the time, Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg were conducting damage control over the company's ongoing controversies, from compromised user data to its involvement in the 2016 presidential election to the perpetuation of hate campaigns in Myanmar.
Sandberg at first denied knowing that Facebook had hired Definers, before acknowledging in a post last week that some of the company's work for Facebook had crossed her desk.
Schrage has been at Facebook for a decade and announced his departure in June.
In a private meeting on Thursday, Sandberg again distanced herself from Definers and its research into Soros, according to Rashad Robinson, head of the racial-justice group Color of Change, which was named in a Definers memo about Soros.
The social media company recently admitted to hiring an opposition research firm - called Definers Public Affairs - to probe Soros.
Roger Kay, an analyst and consultant at Endpoint Technologies Associates who follows the tech sector, said the moves by Facebook and Sandberg showed "extraordinarily poor judgment" from a corporate governance view.