Buzzfeed News obtained a copy of the report that Facebook commissioned from consulting firm Definers Public Affairs, which attempts to link efforts by the “Freedom from Facebook” campaign to liberal philanthropist George Soros.
The May 2018 report is one of at least two files that the consulting firm produced for Facebook. It attempts to make the case that Soros funded the coalition through three very broad points. First, it highlights a “coalition of progressive groups” that make up the “Freedom from Facebook” campaign, and that it has a six-figure ad budget to advance its message. Secondly, it notes that some of that coalition’s members were backed by Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and finally, points to Soros’ statements criticizing the social media site.
You can read the document below:
Buzzfeed reports that there “is at least one other, longer Definers document involving Soros,” and that a spokesperson for the Open Markets Institute has said that Soros hasn’t provided any funding for the Freedom from Facebook coalition.
The revelation that Facebook had brought in a consulting firm to look into Soros came last month from a lengthy New York Times report that detailed Facebook’s attempts to come to terms with its influence during the 2016 US Presidential election. The report revealed that Facebook hired “a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros,” which drew intense criticism, given that Soros is frequently a target of alt-right and anti-Semitic attacks and conspiracy theories.
Facebook said at the time that it had brought on the group to look into organized anti-Facebook efforts, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg didn’t know who hired the company, and quickly cut ties to the group, while outgoing PR and communications head Elliot Schrage took the blame for hiring the firm. A Facebook spokesperson pointed to Schrage’s post from last week and said that it has “nothing further to add at this time.”
Updated December 1st 5:15 PM ET: added statement from Facebook.
By Andrew Liptak