How Facebook Wrestled With Scandal: 6 Key Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation
For more than a year, Facebook has endured cascading crises ― over Russian misinformation, data privacy and abusive content ― that transformed the Silicon Valley icon into an embattled giant accused of corporate overreach and negligence.
An investigation by The New York Times revealed how Facebook fought back against its critics: with delays, denials and a full-bore campaign in Washington. Here are six takeaways.
Facebook knew about Russian interference
In fall 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, was publicly declaring it a “crazy idea” that his company had played a role in deciding the election. But security experts at the company already knew otherwise.
They found signs as early as spring 2016 that Russian hackers were poking around the Facebook accounts of people linked to American presidential campaigns. Months later, they saw Russian-controlled accounts sharing information from hacked Democratic emails with reporters. Facebook accumulated evidence of Russian activity for over a year before executives opted to share what they knew with the public ― and even their own board of directors.
The company feared Trump supporters
In 2015, when the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump called for a banof Muslim immigrants, Facebook employees and outside critics called on the company to punish Mr. Trump. Mr. Zuckerberg considered it ― asking subordinates whether Mr. Trump had violated the company’s rules and whether his account should be suspended or the post removed.
But while Mr. Zuckerberg was personally offended, he deferred to subordinates who warned that penalizing Mr. Trump would set off a damaging backlash among Republicans.
Mr. Trump’s post remained up.
Facebook launched a multipronged attack and lobbying campaign
As criticism grew over Facebook’s belated admissions of Russian influence, the company launched a lobbying campaign ― overseen by Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer ― to combat critics and shift anger toward rival tech firms.
Facebook hired Senator Mark Warner’s former chief of staff to lobby him; Ms. Sandberg personally called Senator Amy Klobuchar to complain about her criticism. The company also deployed a public relations firm to push negative stories about its political critics and cast blame on companies like Google.
Facebook聘用了参议员马克・华纳(Mark Warner)的前办公室主任来游说这位参议员；桑德伯格亲自给参议员艾米・克洛布彻(Amy Klobuchar)打电话，对克洛布彻的批评表示不满。公司还安排一家公关公司，推出了关于Facebook政治批评者的负面报道，还把问题归咎于谷歌那样的公司。
Those efforts included depicting the billionaire liberal donor George Soros as the force behind a broad anti-Facebook movement, and publishing stories praising Facebook and criticizing Google and Apple on a conservative news site.
Cambridge Analytica raised the stakes
Facebook faced worldwide outrage in March after The Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian published a joint investigation into how user data had been appropriated by Cambridge Analytica to profile American voters. But inside Facebook, executives thought they could contain the damage. The company installed a new chief of American lobbying to help quell the bipartisan anger in Congress, and it quietly shelved an internal communications campaign, called “We Get It,” meant to assure employees that the company was committed to getting back on track in 2018.
今年3月，时报、《伦敦观察》(The Observer of London)和《卫报》(The Guardian)发表了一篇联合调查，对剑桥分析公司如何利用用户数据获取美国选民个人信息的事情进行了报道之后，Facebook面临着全世界的公愤。但在Facebook内部，高管们认为他们可以控制事态。公司任命了一位负责美国游说的新主管，来帮助平息国会里来自两党的愤怒，并悄悄搁置了一个旨在向员工保证公司将尽心尽力在2018年恢复正常的、名为“我们明白了”(We Get It)的内部宣传活动。
Some criticisms hurt more than others
Sensing Facebook’s vulnerability, some rival tech firms in Silicon Valley sought to use the outcry to promote their own brands. After Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, quipped in an interview that his company did not traffic in personal data, Mr. Zuckerberg ordered his management team to use only Android phones. After all, he reasoned, the operating system had far more users than Apple’s.
Facebook still has friends
Washington’s senior Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, raised more money from Facebook employees than any other member of Congress during the 2016 election cycle ― and he was there when the company needed him.
This past summer, as Facebook’s troubles mounted, Mr. Schumer confronted Mr. Warner, who by then had emerged as Facebook’s most insistent inquisitor in Congress. Back off, Mr. Schumer told Mr. Warner, and look for ways to work with Facebook, not vilify it. Lobbyists for Facebook ― which also employs Mr. Schumer’s daughter ― were kept abreast of Mr. Schumer’s efforts.