Zuckerberg says he won’t step down and Sandberg’s job is safe, even after Facebook’s scandals
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, will not step down as chairman, he said in an interview that aired on CNN Tuesday night, and he will not dismiss Sheryl Sandberg, his top lieutenant and chief operating officer.
The remarks came following a major report by the New York Times claiming the social network engaged in a smear campaign against its critics under their watch, and as a series of scandals has rocked the company in recent months.
Facebook and the two executives drew critical headlines last week following the report, which revealed an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign designed to avoid accountability for the company’s missteps, involving Russian propaganda, privacy violations and the massive spread of hateful posts.
“She has been an important partner for me for 10 years,” Zuckerberg said in the interview. “I am really proud of the work we have done together and hope we work together for decades more to come.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook hired an opposition research firm to discredit critics by linking them to the liberal philanthropist George Soros, according to the Times, as part of the company’s communications strategy, which is overseen by Sandberg. The Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic organization founded by Soros, strongly objected to what it described as Facebook’s “unsavory tactics.” The group accused the company of mimicking right-wing efforts to demonize Soros, who is a frequent target of anti-Semitic vitriol from the far right.
“It’s important for Facebook to recognize that this isn’t a public relations problem — it’s a fundamental challenge for the platform and their business model,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee told The Washington Post.” I think it took them too long to realize that.”
Since the summer, following slowing user growth, a privacy breach impacting 29 million users, and ongoing concerns that the platform is a tool for ethnic cleansing, the company has seen the value of its shares dive. But the tech industry as a whole has faced a punishing few months on Wall Street. Big name tech giants, known as the “FAANGs” — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — have shed more than $1 trillion in value in the last 60 days. The tech company slide dragged the Nasdaq composite index down almost 15 percent, from its recent peak, in August.
During Wednesday morning trading, Facebook was up 3.2 percent, as the market bounced slightly after a few days of heavy losses.