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An upcoming book from New York Times journalists Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang sheds new light on the security briefing in which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg learned of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In an excerpt of An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination shared with Axios, Frenkel and Kang write that Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg were told of Russian activity in a Dec. 2016 meeting, despite the security team having first spotted issues nine months earlier, in March.
In an eight-page handout, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer, “acknowledged that Facebook was sitting on a trove of information proving that a foreign government had tried to meddle in the U.S. election,” Axios reports. The company’s security team had “uncovered information that no one, including the U.S. government, had previously known,” write Frenkel and Kang.
Zuckerberg and a “visibly agitated” Sandberg were reportedly not happy, with the CEO lamenting, “Oh f—, how did we miss this?” The room was quiet while the executives “drilled their chief security officer,” asking why they had been kept in the dark and “how aggressive were the Russians?”
Stamos felt he had been trying to raise the alarm on Russia “for months,” while admitting that “no one at the company knew the full extent of the Russian election interference.” Zuckerberg demanded answers, and executives “promised to devote their top engineering talent and resources” to investigating Russian activity.
In a statement to Axios, Facebook said it continues to “vigilantly protect democracy on our platform both here and abroad.” Read more at Axios.