Facebook reportedly hired a Republican opposition research firm as part of a campaign to link the site’s dissenters with Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros.
The New York Times reported that the social media site hired a Republican opposition research firm called Definers Public Affairs in the wake of allegations that Facebook was a host for widespread political propaganda during the 2016 presidential campaign. The firm launched a campaign against Facebook protesters that had Soros at the forefront.
“Definers also reportedly targeted Soros after anti-Facebook activists promoted what appeared to be anti-Semitic imagery during a congressional hearing,” noted the Huffington Post. “They sent a research document to reporters over the summer alleging that Soros was behind an anti-Facebook movement; his Open Society Foundations, for example, supported a group that his son founded as well as Color of Change, a group that belongs to an anti-Facebook advocacy group called Freedom From Facebook.”
In the wake of the report, Facebook cut ties with Definers Public Affairs, but the social media site has still come under considerable criticism.
“It’s bad enough that Facebook has done so little to expose the dark forces that use its platform to spread hate. It’s shocking that Facebook joins them by secretly trying to blame George Soros for the growing, valid public criticism of the company,” wrote Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
The social media site has already been criticized for failing to stop the Russian propaganda that was prevalent during the election. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had been grilled when called before Congress last year to testify about Russian interference, and in turn, Facebook has made a number of changes to its political ads and to reveal the sources of funding for ads run on the site. Zuckerberg also announced that the site would be hiring 20,000 people to handle safety and security on the site.
The spotlight contributed to a downturn for the company. This summer, Facebook’s stock dropped more than 20 percent in value, MarketWatch reported, leading to a loss of $120 billion for the company.
Imagine if Zuck had used that yummy lobbyist money on fighting Russian interference instead https://t.co/y9wR2zS2ga
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) November 15, 2018
Facebook is ending its relationship with Definers, a Washington consultancy firm, in the wake of a NYT story that shed light on some of the opposition research the group had conducted for Facebook.https://t.co/L0BIheI2Gn
— rat king (@MikeIsaac) November 15, 2018
This is not the first time that George Soros has been in the crosshairs of a conspiracy theory. The billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor has been a frequent target for the right and for conspiracy theorists. Last month, when Donald Trump was focusing on a migrant caravan heading toward the United States during his frequent campaigning to help Republican candidates, he mused about unfounded theories that George Soros could be funding the caravan.