New York Times reported this Wednesday that Facebook had expanded its relationship with Washington based Public Relations firm, Definer Public Affairs, last year in an attempt to discredit the criticism from its competitors like Google and Apple. The firm apparently also helped to fuel the rumor of financial tycoon George Soros’ involvement in the anti-Facebook campaign.

Facebook had been subjected to a lot of criticism due to allegations of Russian intervention in its social network. Following this Facebook strengthened its relationship with Definers Public Affairs in October 2017. This tie-up made the Washington firm serve the bipartite function of writing articles slamming Facebook’s competitors like Apple and Google while diluting the impact of Russian intervention in the affairs of the social media site. The articles were then published on the firm’s media site, NTK Network, which primarily caters to a conservative audience. The report also suggests that the firm had coerced journalists into investigating the financial links between Soros and the group that had protested Facebook at the July Congressional hearing.

This report is a part of a series of disclosures made by New York Times of numerous scandals at Facebook in recent times. The report includes a description of Facebook’s handling of scandals over the last three years, including allegations of Russian intervention and the scandal of sharing user data with Cambridge Analytica that made the headlines in March.

The report outlined besides miscellaneous news including Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Cheryl Sandberg’s, anger with the revelation by the current security executive in the fall of 2017 of Russia’s full intervention in the activities of Facebook; and Zuckerberg’s command to his employees to switch to Android phones following Apple CEO, Tim Cook’s, criticism of Facebook’s inefficiency in protecting user data.

Facebook has yet to respond to the report.

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