Facebook board says it pushed Zuckerberg and Sandberg to 'move faster' on Russia interference

  • Facebook's board said "to suggest that [Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg] knew about Russian interference and either tried to ignore it or prevent investigations into what had happened is grossly unfair."
  • The statement comes a day after a New York Times investigation claimed Zuckerberg and Sandberg downplayed internal efforts to assess Russian misinformation campaigns, and sought to deflect public scrutiny onto its competitors.
  • Facebook executives and lawmakers named in the New York Times report have since denied the claims.
Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to participants during the Viva Technologie show at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on May 24, 2018 in Paris, France. 
Chesnot | Getty Images
Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to participants during the Viva Technologie show at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on May 24, 2018 in Paris, France. 

Facebook's board said Thursday it pushed CEO Mark Zuckerberg and second-in-command Sheryl Sandberg to "move faster" on investigating Russian interference on the platform, but said "to suggest that they knew about Russian interference and either tried to ignore it or prevent investigations into what had happened is grossly unfair."

The statement comes a day after a New York Times investigation claimed Zuckerberg and Sandberg downplayed internal efforts to assess Russian misinformation campaigns, and sought to deflect public scrutiny onto Facebook's competitors.

"The company was too slow to spot Russian interference, and too slow to take action. As a board we did indeed push them to move faster," the board said in its statement. "In the last eighteen months Facebook, with the full support of this board, has invested heavily in more people and better technology to prevent misuse of its services, including during elections."

Facebook executives and lawmakers named in the New York Times report have countered some of its claims. Former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, who first brought evidence of Russian interference to Facebook's top executives, pushed back on the story on Twitter Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Facebook released its latest report on the removal of harmful content from its services. The company has been consistent in its messaging for the last year that it was "too slow" to spot abuse on the platform, but that it is getting better.

Here's the full statement from Facebook's board:

"As Mark and Sheryl made clear to Congress, the company was too slow to spot Russian interference, and too slow to take action. As a board we did indeed push them to move faster. But to suggest that they knew about Russian interference and either tried to ignore it or prevent investigations into what had happened is grossly unfair. In the last eighteen months Facebook, with the full support of this board, has invested heavily in more people and better technology to prevent misuse of its services, including during elections. As the US mid-term showed they have made considerable progress and we support their continued to efforts to fight abuse and improve security."