Facebook’s push to defend its image

Facebook executives from the Marketing, Communications, Policy, and Integrity teams were involved in the changes. Alex Schultz, a 14-year-old corporate veteran who was named chief marketing officer last year, was also influential in the image remodeling effort, said five employees who worked with him. But at least one of the decisions was made by Mr. Zuckerberg and all of them were approved by him, three of the people said.

Credit…Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson, denied the company had changed its approach.

“People deserve to know the steps we are taking to address the various issues facing our company – and we will share those steps widely,” he said in a statement.

For years, Facebook executives have been annoyed that their company appears to be under scrutiny than Google and Twitter, current and former employees said. They attributed that attention to Facebook’s more exposure to its apologies and access to internal data, people said.

In January, executives held a virtual meeting and brought up the idea of ​​a more aggressive defense, one attendee said. The group discussed using the news feed to spread positive news about the company and run ads linked to positive articles on Facebook. They also discussed how to define a pro Facebook story, two participants said.

That same month, the communications team discussed ways for leaders to be less forgiving during crises and decided there would be fewer excuses, said two people who know the plan.

Mr Zuckerberg, who had intertwined with political issues like the 2020 elections, also wanted to reposition himself as an innovator, people said. In January, the communications team distributed a document with a strategy for distancing Mr. Zuckerberg from scandals, including by focusing his Facebook posts and media appearances on new products, it said.

The Information, a tech news site, had previously reported on the document.

The effect was immediate. On Jan. 11, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg – rather than Mr Zuckerberg – told Reuters that the US Capitol’s storming a week earlier had little to do with Facebook. When President Biden said in July that the social network was “killing people” by spreading Covid-19 misinformation, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, denied the characterization in a blog post, pointing out that the White House was coronavirus – Vaccination got missed goals.

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