Elliot Schrage, a Facebook official who leads their Communication and Policy team, took responsibility Wednesday for establishing the company’s relationship with Definers, a public relations firm he confirmed was asked to look into billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
The statement from Schrage, who has been at the company for a decade and announced his departure in June, was posted in the Facebook newsroom Wednesday and in it, he explained why Definers was hired and what tasks they were asked to carry out.
Facebook developed relationships with both Republican and Democrat-associated companies, he said, including Definers which “was one of the Republican-affiliate firms.”
“We asked Definers to do what public relations firms typically do to support a company — sending us press clippings, conducting research, writing messaging documents, and reaching out to reporters,” Schrage said.
In the statement, Schrage directly acknowledged that Facebook asked Definers “to do work on” Soros, after they said he “attacked” the company and described them as “a ‘menace to society.’”
“Definers researched this using public information,” he said.
He also offered his thoughts on the work being labeled “as opposition research,” saying that he thinks “it would be irresponsible and unprofessional for us not to understand the backgrounds and potential conflicts of interest of our critics.”
The work Definers provided also proved to be helpful in responding “to unfair claims where Facebook has been singled out for criticism, and to positively distinguish us from competitors,” Schrage said.
Even so, Schrage said that Definers got carried away in its work to discredit Facebook’s critics. The system he set up on the company’s communications team “failed here and I’m sorry I let you all down,” he wrote.
“I regret my own failure here,” he continued.
Definer’s connection to Facebook was exposed in a story published by The New York Times earlier this month. The social media company cut ties with Definers after the report.
Schrage’s statement was initially sent out as a memo to company employees on Tuesday before it was posted in their newsroom.
In an online statement from Definers, the company acknowledged Schrage’s comments and said he “clearly stated that Definers performed the communications and public affairs services that Facebook asked us to provide. That’s how we run our business – the client comes first, always.”
While going through parts of Schrage’s statement, Definers said they were not employed as an opposition research firm and went on to discuss their work pertaining to Soros.
“The charge that this public records research somehow constituted a ‘smear campaign’ against Mr. Soros and anti-Facebook groups is a completely false and an unfortunate part of the story,” the statement said.
Fox News’ James Rogers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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