Facebook says it asked Definers to do work on Soros

Facebook admitted Wednesday it hired consulting firm Definers to investigate Democratic donor and hedge fund billionaire George Soros’s criticisms of the tech behemoth. 

“In January 2018, investor and philanthropist George Soros attacked Facebook in a speech at Davos, calling us a 'menace to society.' We had not heard such criticism from him before and wanted to determine if he had any financial motivation. Definers researched this using public information,” Facebook said in a press release on its blog.

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“Later, when the ‘Freedom from Facebook’ campaign emerged as a so-called grassroots coalition, the team asked Definers to help understand the groups behind them," Facebook added, referring to a coalition of progressive groups that had been critical of the social media platform.

"They learned that George Soros was funding several of the coalition members. They prepared documents and distributed these to the press to show that this was not simply a spontaneous grassroots movement,” the Facebook statement also said.

Elliot Schrage, the outgoing head of communications and policy at Facebook, took responsibility for the decision to hire the firm, according to the statement, while COO Sheryl Sandberg denied any knowledge of the company hiring Definers.

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergDems, celebs push movement to #LogOutFacebook Facebook under fire from civil rights groups Facebook hosts 'pop up' privacy tutorial in New York City MORE distanced himself from the hiring during a conference call with reporters last week, saying, “This type of firm might be normal in Washington, but it’s not the kind of thing that I want Facebook associated with, which is why we’re no longer going to be working with them

The New York times first reported on the link between the Definers consulting firm and Facebook last week. The tech company denied it asked Definers to disseminate any false information.

The firm once circulated a document painting Soros as the funder behind "Freedom from Facebook."

While some of the groups involved receive funding from Soros, the campaign as a whole was not bankrolled by him, Axios reported

Soros has long been the subject of smears and anti-Semitic attack lines, such as the claim that Soros manipulates the media and the world economy.

A Definers spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the firm stands by its work.

“The document referenced in the Times story regarding the anti-Facebook organization's potential funding sources was entirely factual and based on public records, including public statements by one of its organizers about receiving funding from Mr. Soros' foundation," the spokesperson said.