News roundup: Facebook forced to distance itself from conspiracy theorist PR company
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News roundup: Facebook forced to distance itself from conspiracy theorist PR company

Facebook in hot water (again)

Whenever a headline emerges about Facebook doing something less than okay, there's always a group of people - who I can only assume have never watched ‘The Social Network' - who express disbelief that the platform could do such a thing.

This week, the social media company that was originally founded by a fresh-faced Mark Zuckerberg to enable visitors to rate the comparative physical attractiveness of two female students, is in trouble for hiring a PR firm that spread conspiracy theories in order to discredit critics of Facebook.

A report in the New York Times claims that due to increasing turmoil extending from criticism about Russian interference on the platform and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook hired a Republican founded PR company called Definers Public Affairs to help limit its reputational damage.

The report goes on to detail how Definers Public Affairs published numerous negative articles about other tech companies on Facebook's behalf, and pushed the debunked conspiracy theory that many of those expressing criticism about the social network were actually paid operatives that made up a broad anti-Facebook movement being bankrolled by billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Soros, you might remember, was sent a pipe bomb in the post last month.

In the wake of the revelations, Facebook's top two executives, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, claimed that they had no knowledge of the tactics being deployed until they read the New York Times article and announced the platform was cutting ties with the PR firm.

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Charlotte Trueman

Charlotte is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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