Like Facebook rolls from a bomb New York time report published this week, much of the focus is on controversial public relations companies hired by companies. Definar Public Affairs, a DC organization, presses journalists with information that benefits Facebook, including by linking liberal billionaire George Soros with funding anti-Facebook activities.
Since the report was published, a fuller scope of group activities has been established. The group also put up reporters on negative articles about other technology companies: Time and Business Insider has noted that the company is trying to portray Google and Apple in a negative light, and similar emails are also received by The Verge. According to CNN, one note about Apple trying to question whether there might be a liberal bias on Apple News. The company is also high-pitched The Verge on the negative story about the Bird Scooter company, encouraging a reporter to question the number of cities where the company operated at that time.
So far, there is little information about which technology companies might maintain the group's services. Besides Facebook, NBC News reported that Qualcomm, who had been involved in a legal fight with Apple, might be a client. (Qualcomm did not respond to requests for comment.) The company also works with rival scooter Bird Lime, according to the email sent to The Verge. (Lime declined to comment.)
"Our PR professionals work with Facebook and the media to help companies launch policy announcements about platform changes, policy initiatives, and company news," the Definers said in a statement today. "This includes working on advertising policies and hate speech, overcoming bias on platforms, and their efforts to crack down on inauthentic behavior on the platform."
Mark Zuckerberg said this week that he was unaware of the activities of the Definers, but the company had cut ties with the group. The company also faced back pressure from lawmakers, who were also reportedly discussed in pitches to reporters. That Time It was reported yesterday that the company was spreading information about tracking on the senator's website, suggesting they might be hypocritical to pursue Facebook.
"This is quite disturbing," Senator Mark Warner words in a tweet. "At the same time that Facebook publicly expressed their desire to work with the Intel committee, they paid for a political opposition research firm to personally try to undermine the credibility of the committee."