Facebook cuts ties with firm after allegations of ‘smear tactics’

Facebook said on Thursday that it had cut ties with a consulting firm on the social network allegedly used to discredit its critics and competitors.

The New York Times reported that Facebook hired a PR firm to shine a negative light on critics of the social media network, including George Soros.

Facebook said it ended its contract with the firm, Definers, on Wednesday night, but denied that the firm was used to spread disinformation.

The president of Soros’ Open Society Foundation, Patrick Gaspard, said it was “not enough’’ to part ways with Definers, in a tweet on Thursday.

Gaspard’s tweet came after the foundation issued a statement saying it was “dismayed’’ over the alleged “smear tactics’’ used against the U.S.-Hungarian billionaire and philanthropist, who supports progressive causes.

Gaspard also wrote an open letter to the social network’s bosses on Wednesday, saying Facebook’s methods “threaten the very values underpinning our democracy.’’

“As you know, there is a concerted right-wing effort the world over to demonise Mr Soros and his foundations, which I lead an effort which has contributed to death threats and the delivery of a pipe bomb to Mr Soros’ home,’’ Gaspard wrote.

Soros was one of the targets of a series of home-made bombs sent to prominent Democrats and critics of U.S. President Donald Trump in the run-up to the U.S. midterm elections.

Facebook remains under pressure after a series of scandals involving inflammatory content, coordinated disinformation campaigns and data breaches on its platform. (dpa/NAN)

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