The President of Open Society Foundations (OSF), Patrick Gaspard has issued an open letter to Facebook in response to a New York Times piece detailing Facebook’s employment of a PR firm to smear OSF, and its founder, George Soros.

The letter from OSF questions Facebook’s commitment to preventing misinformation and the spread of hate messages on their platform and then seeks to understand the reasons behind Facebook’s inaction and supposed support of misinformation on the platform

The letter seeks to turn ”this disappointing moment into an opportunity for debate about how Facebook can be used to push out fake news and hate” and open up a debate on the use of digital space and social media for disinformation. 

To full letter is addressed to Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg and can be found below.

 

Dear Ms. Sandberg:

I was shocked to learn from the New York Times that you and your colleagues at Facebook hired a Republican opposition research firm to stir up animus toward George Soros.

As you know, there is a concerted right-wing effort the world over to demonize 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’s home. You are no doubt also aware that much of this hateful and blatantly false and anti-Semitic information is spread via Facebook.

The notion that your company, at your direction, actively engaged in the same behavior to try to discredit people exercising their First Amendment rights to protest Facebook’s role in disseminating vile propaganda is frankly astonishing to me.

It’s been disappointing to see how you have failed to monitor hate and misinformation on Facebook’s platform. To now learn that you are active in promoting these distortions is beyond the pale.

These efforts appear to have been part of a deliberate strategy to distract from the very real accountability problems your company continues to grapple with. This is reprehensible, and an offense to the core values Open Society seeks to advance. But at bottom, this is not about George Soros or the foundations. Your methods threaten the very values underpinning our democracy.

I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this matter with you in person, and to hear what steps you might take to help remediate the damage done by this deeply misguided—and dangerous—effort carried out at Facebook’s behest.

Sincerely,

Patrick Gaspard
President
Open Society Foundations