Sandberg Denies Facebook Misled About Russian Hacking

Sheryl Sandberg is responding to reports that she and Mark Zuckerberg were reluctant to reveal Facebook’s Russian hacking problem in 2016.

Following an official statement on the matter, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer insists she and the company's cofounder-CEO never sought to mislead anyone.

“To suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or we wanted to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations, is simply untrue,” Sandberg declares in a new blog post. “The allegations saying I personally stood in the way are also just plain wrong.”

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To support her case, Sandberg referenced comments she and Zuckerberg made before Congress, earlier this year, in which they stated Facebook had detected and dealt with several threats with ties to Russia, “leading up to Election Day in November 2016.”

“These were known traditional cyberattacks like hacking and malware,” Sandberg said. “It was not until after the election that we became aware of the widespread misinformation campaigns run by the IRA.”

Once Facebook did become aware of the scale of the problem, Sandberg says the company began investing “heavily” in more people and better technology to protect its platform.

In its bombshell report published this week, The New York Times reported that Facebook paid a Republican-linked consulting firm, Definers Public Affairs, to discredit critics, such as Freedom From Facebook -- a coalition of advocacy groups that has pressured the Federal Trade Commission to break up Facebook into smaller companies.

Although Facebook felt the need to severe ties with Definers, Sandberg said their relationship was totally above board.

“At the time, they were trying to show that some of the activity against us that appeared to be grassroots also had major organizations behind them,” Sandberg said.

Distancing herself from Definers, Sandberg also mentioned she was unaware that Facebook had ever hired the PR firm.

In the wake of The Times story, some analysts say it’s time for big changes at Facebook.

The tech titan “could accelerate [its] credibility rebuild by considering making change(s) at the top of the organization,” Stifel analyst Scott Devitt said in a new note to clients.
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