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Zuckerberg Defends Company in Friday Meeting With Employees

SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg fiercely defended Facebook in a question-and-answer consultation with workers on Friday afternoon, pushing again in opposition to complaint of the corporate in the wake of a New York Times investigation into the way it reacted to Russian affect operations.

In an hourlong videoconference broadcast to Facebook workplaces world wide, Mr. Zuckerberg spoke back to questions from workers on a variety of subjects, from Facebook’s conduct during the last 18 months to the way it must deal with leaks to the media, consistent with 3 other folks conversant in the dialogue however no longer keen to talk about it publicly as it was once a personal assembly.

The concept that Facebook attempted to “cover up anything” was once useless incorrect, an impassioned Mr. Zuckerberg stated, the use of an expletive in his reaction, consistent with those other folks. Some workers spoke back with muted applause and cheers.

The consultation got here at a fraught time for the social community, as executives mobilized to care for a torrent of complaint of the corporate. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to remark at the Friday assembly.

On Wednesday, The Times reported a few combat on the best ranks of Facebook with how to answer Russian disinformation operations and revelations of vulnerable knowledge privateness protections. In specific, there was once really extensive pressure between Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s leader running officer, and Alex Stamos, the corporate’s former leader safety officer.

“Yup, Sheryl Sandberg yelled at me,” Mr. Stamos stated in an opinion piece revealed in The Washington Post on Saturday. “I had no self belief that we’d came upon the whole lot the Russians have been as much as, and it was once reasonably imaginable that issues would worsen prior to we constructed the groups and invented the generation vital to prevent it. Sheryl — as reported in this previous week’s New York Times investigation — felt blindsided by means of this. (She later apologized.)”

The corporate had additionally employed Definers Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C. consulting firm, to seed opposition analysis on Facebook critics. Definers additionally related George Soros, the liberal financier, to anti-Facebook teams. Facebook cut ties with the firm after The Times investigation was once revealed.

In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Mr. Zuckerberg criticized what Definers had accomplished on behalf of his corporate and stated he and Ms. Sandberg weren’t acutely aware of the particular paintings the outdoor company was once doing. He added that anyone at the corporate’s communications group of workers most probably employed Definers, even though he later complimented the communications group of workers for his or her “hard work.”

“In common, we want to undergo all of and evaluation what could be more typical D.C. relationships and come to a decision if we wish to proceed with them,” Mr. Zuckerberg stated at the name.

Mr. Zuckerberg stated a lot of the complaint of his corporate during the last 18 months — in particular relating to election safety, content material moderation and disinformation — have been truthful and necessary.

Ms. Sandberg, who additionally attended the consultation, added that “I fully accept responsibility for Definers,” consistent with two other folks conversant in the dialog. “That was on me.”

But Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stated The Times’s investigation was once “completely unfair” and every now and then “simply not true.”

Much of the dialogue targeted on boosting worker morale. Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s former vice chairman of worldwide communications and public coverage, returned to the corporate for the assembly on Friday.

Mr. Schrage stated that Facebook was once in a troublesome information cycle, and that issues would ultimately loosen up, and he advised staff to stay looking to do their absolute best and paintings at the corporate’s tricky issues.

Some Facebook workers indicated that they imagine The Times and different information retailers are unfairly concentrated on the corporate as a result of its outsize affect — a sentiment shared in the consultation on Friday when workers requested executives what would occur to workers who leak data to the clicking.

Mr. Zuckerberg made it transparent that Facebook would no longer hesitate to fireside workers who spoke to The New York Times or different publications. But after an worker requested whether or not the corporate must factor a file about what number of leakers Facebook had discovered and fired, Mr. Zuckerberg performed down the speculation.

Leaks, he stated, are in most cases brought about by means of “issues with morale.”

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