Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s Partnership Did Not Survive Trump
The company they built is wildly successful. But her Washington wisdom didn’t hold up, and neither did their close working relationship.
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s Partnership Did Not Survive Trump
The company they built is wildly successful. But her Washington wisdom didn’t hold up, and neither did their close working relationship.
Sheryl Sandberg knew she’d be asked about the attacks on the Capitol.
For the past week, the country had been reeling from the violence in Washington, and with each passing day, reporters were uncovering more of the footprint left behind by the rioters on social media.
Speaking to the cameras rolling in her sun-filled Menlo Park, Calif., garden, Ms. Sandberg confronted this question, one she’d prepared for: Could Facebook have acted sooner to help prevent this?
Ms. Sandberg noted that the company had taken down many pages supporting the Proud Boys, a far-right militia, and “Stop the Steal” groups organized around the false claim that President Donald J. Trump had won the 2020 election. Enforcement was never perfect, she added, so some inflammatory posts remained up. But, she added, the blame primarily lay elsewhere.
“I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate, don’t have our standards, and don’t have our transparency,” she said.
That comment was picked up by news outlets across the world. Outraged members of Congress and researchers who studied right-wing groups accused Facebook of abdicating responsibility.
Those within Ms. Sandberg’s inner circle told her what she wanted to hear: Her words were being taken out of context, journalists were unfairly piling on, it wasn’t her fault.
But in other parts of the company, executives whispered to each other that Ms. Sandberg had, once again, slipped up. She was deflecting blame cast on her, or Facebook, they said.
Days later, indictments began to roll in for the rioters who had taken part in the attacks.
In one indictment, lawyers revealed how, in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attacks, Thomas Caldwell and members of his militia group, the Oath Keepers, had openly discussed over Facebook the hotel rooms, airfare and other logistics around their trip to Washington.
On the day itself, people freely celebrated with posts on Facebook and Instagram. Minutes after Mr. Trump ended his speech with a call to his supporters to “Walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” toward the Capitol building, where hundreds of members of Congress sat, people within the crowd used their phones to livestream clashes with police and the storming of the barricades outside the building. Many, including Mr. Caldwell, were getting messages on Facebook Messenger from allies watching their advance from afar.
“All members are in the tunnel under” the Capitol read the message Mr. Caldwell received as he neared the building. Referring to members of Congress, the message added, “Seal them in. Turn on Gas.”
Moments later, Mr. Caldwell posted a quick update on Facebook that read, “Inside.”
The indictments made it clear just how large a part Facebook had played, both in spreading misinformation about election fraud to fuel anger among the Jan. 6 protesters, and in aiding the extremist militia’s communication ahead of the riots. For months, Facebook would be a footnote to a day that challenged the heart of American democracy. And Ms. Sandberg’s words attempting to place the blame elsewhere would continue to haunt her.
In the years since Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, Facebook has struggled with the role it played in his rise and in the growth of populist leaders across the world. The same tools that allowed Facebook’s business to more than double during those years — such as the News Feed that prioritized engagement and the Facebook groups that pushed like-minded people together — had been used to spread misinformation.
To achieve its record-setting growth, the company had continued building on its core technology, making business decisions based on how many hours of the day people spent on Facebook and how many times a day they returned. Facebook’s algorithms didn’t measure if the magnetic force pulling them back to Facebook was the habit of wishing a friend happy birthday, or a rabbit hole of conspiracies and misinformation.
Facebook’s problems were features, not bugs, and were the natural outgrowth of a 13-year partnership between Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive and one of its founders, and his erudite business partner, Ms. Sandberg, its chief operating officer. He was the technology visionary and she understood how to generate revenue from the attention of Facebook’s now 2.8 billion users. They worked in concert to create the world’s biggest exchange of ideas and communication.
This account, adapted from a forthcoming book on Facebook, is drawn from more than 400 interviews, including those with former and current employees of all levels of the company. The interviews paint a portrait of the Trump presidency as a trying period for the company and for its top leaders. The Trump era tested a central relationship at Facebook — between Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg — and she became increasingly isolated. Her role as the C.E.O.’s second-in-command was less certain with his elevation of several other executives, and with her diminishing influence in Washington.
The view from inside the upper echelons of the company was clear: It felt as though Facebook was no longer led by a No. 1 and No. 2, but a No. 1 and many.
The pair continued their twice-weekly meetings, but Mr. Zuckerberg took over more of the areas once under her purview. He made the final call on issues surrounding Mr. Trump’s spread of hate speech and dangerous misinformation, decisions Ms. Sandberg often lobbied against or told allies she felt uncomfortable with. Mr. Zuckerberg oversaw efforts in Washington to fend off regulations and had forged a friendly relationship with Mr. Trump. Ms. Sandberg surrounded herself with a “kitchen cabinet” of outside political advisers and a team of public relations officials who were often at odds with others in the company.
A spokeswoman for Facebook dismissed this characterization.
“The fault lines that the authors depict between Mark and Sheryl and the people who work with them do not exist,” said Dani Lever, the spokeswoman. “All of Mark’s direct reports work closely with Sheryl and hers with Mark. Sheryl’s role at the company has not changed.”
It is true that the core of the partnership hasn’t formally changed. Mr. Zuckerberg controls the direction of the company and Ms. Sandberg the ad business, which continues to soar unabated.
Both executives declined to comment for this story, perhaps letting the company’s performance speak for itself.
Facebook’s market valuation is now over $1 trillion.
The Beginning of an Unusual Pairing
A Christmas party is not an ideal place to avoid small talk, but Mr. Zuckerberg had arrived at the holiday gathering determined to try. It was December 2007, and Facebook was still a private company with just several hundred employees. Despite his aversion to party chat, he allowed himself to be introduced to Sheryl Sandberg.
From the moment they met, both have said, they sensed the potential to transform the company into the global power it is today.
As guests milled around them, he described his goal of turning every person in the country with an internet connection into a Facebook user. It might have sounded like a fantasy to others, but Ms. Sandberg was intrigued and threw out ideas about what it would take to build a business to keep up with that kind of growth. “It was actually smart. It was substantive,” Mr. Zuckerberg later recalled. Ms. Sandberg would go on to tell Dan Rose, a former vice president at Facebook, that she felt she had been “put on this planet to scale organizations.”
After the Christmas party, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg continued their conversations over late dinners at Ms. Sandberg’s favorite neighborhood restaurant, Flea Street, and her pristine Atherton home. (Mr. Zuckerberg still lived in a Palo Alto apartment with only a futon on the floor). Ms. Sandberg walked Mr. Zuckerberg through how she had helped expand Google’s ad business, turning search queries into data that gave advertisers rich insights about users, contributing to the company’s spectacular cash flow.
Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2014. Her role as his second-in-command at Facebook became strained during the Trump era.Credit…Andrew Gombert/European Pressphoto Agency
In some ways, they were opposites. Ms. Sandberg was a master manager and delegator. Her calendar at Google was scheduled to the minute. Meetings rarely ran long and typically culminated in action items. At 38, she was 15 years older than Mr. Zuckerberg, was in bed by 9:30 p.m. and up every morning by 6 for a hard cardio workout. He was a night owl, coding way past midnight and up in time to straggle into the office late in the morning. Mr. Rose recalled being pulled into meetings at 11 p.m., the middle of Mr. Zuckerberg’s workday.
Mr. Zuckerberg recognized that Ms. Sandberg excelled at, even enjoyed, all the parts of running a company that he found unfulfilling. And she would bring to Facebook an asset that her new boss knew he needed: experience in Washington, D.C. Mr. Zuckerberg wasn’t interested in politics and didn’t keep up with the news. The year before, while Mr. Zuckerberg was visiting Donald Graham, then the chairman of The Washington Post, a reporter handed the young C.E.O. a book on politics that the reporter had written. Mr. Zuckerberg said to Mr. Graham, “I’m never going to have time to read this.”
“I teased him because there were very few things where you’ll find unanimity about, and one of those things is that reading books is a good way to learn. There is no dissent on that point,” Mr. Graham said. “Mark eventually came to agree with me on that, and like everything he did, he picked it up very quickly and became a tremendous reader.”
In the lead-up to his talks with Ms. Sandberg, Mr. Zuckerberg experienced a brush with controversy that stoked concerns about potential regulations. Government officials were beginning to question if free platforms like Facebook were harming users with the data they collected. In December 2007, the Federal Trade Commission issued self-regulatory principles for behavioral advertising to protect data privacy. Mr. Zuckerberg needed help navigating Washington.
“Mark understood that some of the biggest challenges Facebook was going to face in the future were going to revolve around issues of privacy and regulatory concerns,” Mr. Rose said. Ms. Sandberg, he noted, “obviously had deep experience there, and this was very important to Mark.”
To Ms. Sandberg, the move to Facebook, a company led by an awkward 23-year-old college dropout, wasn’t as counterintuitive as it might have appeared. She was a vice president at Google, but she had hit a ceiling: There were several vice presidents at her level, and they were all competing for promotions. Eric Schmidt, then the chief executive, wasn’t looking for a No. 2. Men who weren’t performing as well as she was were getting recognized and receiving higher titles, former Google colleagues maintained.
“Despite leading a bigger, more profitable, faster-growing business than the men who were her peers, she was not given the title president, but they were,” recalled Kim Scott, a leader in the ad sales division. Ms. Sandberg was looking for something new. She said yes to Facebook.
Mr. Zuckerberg brought in Ms. Sandberg to deal with growing unease about the company in Washington. She professionalized the ragtag office there, which had been opened by a recent college graduate whose primary job was to help lawmakers set up their Facebook accounts. She represented Facebook as a member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, along with other executives and labor union leaders. After one meeting of the council, she accompanied Mr. Obama on Air Force One to Facebook’s headquarters, where the president held a public town hall to discuss the economy. But soon, there were cracks in the facade.
The F.T.C. officials immediately challenged her, according to people who attended the meeting. Mr. Leibowitz noted that, on a personal level, he had watched his middle-school-age daughter struggle with the privacy settings on Facebook, which had automatically made it easier for strangers to find users like her. “I’m seeing it at home,” he said.
“That’s so great,” Ms. Sandberg responded. She went on to describe the social network as “empowering” for young users. Mr. Leibowitz hadn’t meant it as good news — and emphasized to her that the F.T.C. was deeply concerned about privacy.
Ms. Lever, the Facebook spokeswoman, described the meeting as “substantive,” with a detailed explanation of the company’s privacy policies. She added that the characterization of tension in the room “misrepresents what actually happened.”
But to the people who were there, Ms. Sandberg seemed to be hearing only what she wanted to hear.
An Oval Office Offering
The executives made their way through the lobby of Trump Tower, past reporters shouting questions they ignored, into the gold elevators and up to meet with the president-elect.
“Everybody in this room has to like me ” President-elect Trump said to the group he had gathered there in December 2016. It included Ms. Sandberg and the chief executives of Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
But Ms. Sandberg had made her preferences very clear: She did not like him. In fact, she was still in shock and mourning for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. She was a reliable and prominent Democratic bundler. She had served as chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers during the Clinton administration and her name had been floated for Treasury secretary in a potential Hillary Clinton administration. Now she was waylaid from her path back into politics, after eight years of stratospheric success as a feminist icon and business leader.
Moreover, her Democratic connections were of limited use in the newly elected administration. She called on Joel Kaplan, the company’s top Republican and vice president of global policy, whom she hired in May 2011. (Mr. Kaplan, who accompanied Ms. Sandberg to Trump Tower, stayed one day longer to interview with the Trump transition team for the position of director of the Office of Management and Budget. Facebook said he withdrew his candidacy before the meeting, but took the interview anyway.)
Mr. Kaplan, a former deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, had warned Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg that they had to repair relations with Republicans who resented their support for Democrats. Ms. Sandberg attended the Trump Tower meeting, seated two chairs to the right of the president-elect and between Vice President Mike Pence and Larry Page, one of Google’s founders, but barely spoke. The president-elect, who had sparred with many of the companies whose leaders he now addressed, and who would go on to complicate Facebook’s policies on speech in ways company leaders did not yet comprehend, appeared to be in good spirits that day.
“You’ll call my people, you’ll call me. It doesn’t make any difference,” Mr. Trump said. “We have no formal chain of command over here.”
Facebook did call him. But it was Mr. Zuckerberg who became the emissary to Washington.
In the months and years after the 2016 election, Facebook confronted a number of challenges connected to the Trump presidency. The company investigated and dealt with fallout from the scope of Russian interference with the election on its platform.
A Facebook spokeswoman noted that it was natural for Mr. Zuckerberg to take on a larger role in policy on speech and misinformation. Other tech leaders were also increasingly engaged on those issues. “These areas demanded more time, attention and focus, which both Mark and Sheryl have given them,” said Ms. Lever.
At the same time, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg continued to drift further apart. He was critical of her handling of public relations related to election interference and another scandal in March 2018, when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm working for Mr. Trump, had used data harvested from Facebook users to target voters. Both were breaches that technically stemmed from his side of the business — products — but she was in charge of dealing with the public’s anger over the episodes. One of her primary roles had been to charm Washington on Facebook’s behalf, and protect and burnish its image. Neither project was going particularly well.
On the afternoon of Sept. 19, 2019, Mr. Zuckerberg slipped into the Oval Office for a meeting unrecorded in public schedules for the president.
Mr. Trump leaned forward, resting his elbows on the ornately carved 19th-century Resolute desk. As he boasted about the performance of the economy under his administration, a jumbo glass of Diet Coke collected condensation on a coaster in front of him. Mr. Zuckerberg sat on the other side of the desk, in a straight-back wooden chair wedged between Mr. Kaplan and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Dan Scavino, the president’s director of social media, sat at the end of the row.
Mr. Zuckerberg had come with a gift.
He told Mr. Trump that a team had run the numbers using proprietary internal data, and the president had the highest engagement of any politician on Facebook, according to people familiar with the discussion. Mr. Trump’s personal account, with 28 million followers at that time, was a blowout success. The former reality show star was visibly pleased.
Later in the day, Mr. Trump disclosed the meeting on Facebook and Twitter, posting a photo of the two men shaking hands, a wide smile on the C.E.O.’s face. “Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of @Facebook in the Oval Office today,” read the caption.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s introduction to Mr. Trump’s White House had come through Mr. Kaplan and Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook and the tech industry’s most vocal supporter of the president. Mr. Zuckerberg had first gotten to know Mr. Kushner, who graduated from Harvard the year Mr. Zuckerberg began.
Before his Oval Office meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg scheduled an appointment with Mr. Kushner, who had led digital media strategy for the Trump campaign. He wanted to deliver a compliment about the campaign, and told Mr. Kushner: “You were very good on Facebook.”
Not Sandberg’s Washington Anymore
Ms. Sandberg greeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a smile. The speaker responded coolly, but she did invite Ms. Sandberg to join her on the couches in the guest seating area.
It was May 8, 2019, and the appointment with the speaker capped two days of difficult meetings with lawmakers about efforts to prevent disinformation during the 2020 elections.
It was a trying period for Ms. Sandberg. Her work responsibilities were crushing: Friends said she was feeling tremendous pressure, and some guilt, for the cascade of scandals confronting the company.
The tense mood in the speaker’s office was in stark contrast to the one during a visit Ms. Sandberg made to Ms. Pelosi in July 2015. They took a photo together, with both women smiling, and later Ms. Pelosi posted it to Facebook, heaping praise on Ms. Sandberg’s advocacy for women in the work force.
Now, four years later, Ms. Sandberg sought to regain some of that favor as she described efforts to take down fake foreign accounts, the hiring of thousands of content moderators and the use of artificial intelligence and other technologies to quickly track and take down disinformation. She assured Ms. Pelosi that Facebook would not fight regulations. She pointed to Mr. Zuckerberg’s opinion essay in The Washington Post in April, which called for privacy rules, laws requiring financial disclosures in online election ads, and rules that enabled Facebook users to take their data off the social network and use it on rival sites.
The two talked for nearly an hour. Ms. Sandberg admitted that Facebook had problems, and the company appeared to be at least trying to fix them. Ms. Pelosi was still on guard, but the efforts appeared to be a step forward.
Finally. They seem to be getting it, Ms. Pelosi said.
Two weeks later, a video featuring the speaker was widely shared on Facebook. Someone had manipulated the video, making it seem as if Ms. Pelosi was slurring her words.
On a Facebook page called Politics Watchdog, the video attracted two million views and was shared tens of thousands of times. From there, it was shared to hundreds of private Facebook groups, many of them highly partisan pages. Within 24 hours, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and a former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, had tweeted the link, along with the message, “What’s wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.”
The private Facebook groups Mr. Zuckerberg had championed two months earlier as part of a pivot to privacy were the ones now spreading the video. Within the confines of the small groups, Facebook users not only joked with one another about how to edit the video but also shared tips on how to ensure that it would reach the maximum number of people. YouTube quickly took down the video, but Facebook was where it was getting significant traction.
The speaker’s staff was livid. Her office had particularly strong ties to Facebook. Catlin O’Neill, Ms. Pelosi’s former chief of staff, was one of Facebook’s most senior Democratic lobbyists.
Inside Facebook, executives were ignoring the Pelosi staff’s calls because they were trying to formulate a response. The fact checkers and the A.I. hadn’t flagged the video for false content or prevented its spread. It was easy to fool Facebook’s filters and detection tools with simple workarounds, it turned out.
But the doctored video of Ms. Pelosi revealed more than the failings of Facebook’s technology to stop the spread of misleading viral videos. It exposed the internal confusion and disagreement over the issue of highly partisan political content.
Executives, lobbyists, and communications staff spent the next day in a slow-motion debate. Ms. Sandberg said she thought there was a good argument to take the video down under rules against disinformation, but she left it at that. Mr. Kaplan and members of the policy team said it was important to appear neutral to politics and to be consistent with the company’s promise of free speech.
Ms. Sandberg would have been the senior woman in those discussions, as she was in any discussion at the company, and probably one of few women involved in the decision making at all. After their 2015 visit, Ms. Pelosi had expressed admiration for Ms. Sandberg’s work on behalf of women, and both knew well the additional scrutiny and attacks that female leaders can face. That the video existed at all and had spread so widely, often with gendered commentary, was also a testament to that.
The conversations became tortured exercises in “what-if” arguments. Mr. Zuckerberg and other members of the policy team pondered if the video could be defined as parody. If so, it could be an important contribution to political debate. Some communications employees noted that the same kind of spoof of Ms. Pelosi could have appeared on the television show “Saturday Night Live.” Others on the security team pushed back and said viewers clearly knew that “S.N.L.” was a comedy show and that the video of Ms. Pelosi was not watermarked as a parody.
Employees involved in the discussions were frustrated, but they emphasized that a policy for just one video would also affect billions of others, so the decision could not be rushed.
“It’s easy to criticize the process, but there isn’t a playbook for making policy decisions that make everyone happy, particularly when attempting to apply standards consistently,” Ms. Lever, the spokeswoman, said this week.
On Friday, 48 hours after the video surfaced, Mr. Zuckerberg made the final call. He said to keep it up.
Ms. Sandberg did not try to explain, or justify, the decision to Ms. Pelosi’s staff.
Later that year, Mr. Zuckerberg had a chance to publicly elaborate on the thinking behind that decision and others like it. On Oct. 17, he appeared at Georgetown University’s campus in Washington to deliver his first major public address on Facebook’s responsibility as a platform for speech.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s speech about Facebook’s responsibility as a platform for free speech at Georgetown University in October was immediately criticized.Credit…Nick Wass/Associated Press
He described Facebook as part of a new force that he called “the fifth estate,” which provided an unfiltered and unedited voice to its 2.7 billion users. He warned against shutting down dissenting views. The cacophony of voices would, of course, be discomfiting, but debate was essential to a healthy democracy. The public would act as the fact checkers of a politician’s lies. It wasn’t the role of a business to make such consequential governance decisions, he said.
Ms. Lever added recently that the company did not want to act unilaterally to make these choices and would welcome regulations from legislators.
Immediately after the Georgetown address, civil rights leaders, academics, journalists and consumer groups panned the speech, saying political lies had the potential to foment violence.
An aide to Ms. Sandberg fired off a series of angry emails about the Georgetown speech to her. She wrote back that he should forward the emails to Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister who had become Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, and others who might influence Mr. Zuckerberg’s thinking. Her inaction infuriated colleagues and some of her lieutenants — his decisions, after all, were in direct contradiction to the core values she promoted in public. There was little she could do to change Mr. Zuckerberg’s mind, Ms. Sandberg confided to those close to her.
Just a few days after Mr. Zuckerberg told the subdued Georgetown crowd that Facebook would not curtail political speech, Ms. Sandberg appeared at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles, and sat for an interview with Katie Couric. The two women had once bonded over their shared experience of being widowed young; Ms. Couric had lost her husband to colon cancer at age 42. Ms. Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg, died in May 2015, and Ms. Couric had supported Ms. Sandberg’s 2017 book about coping with that loss, “Option B,” with interviews at public events.
But during their nearly hourlong conversation, Ms. Couric grilled Ms. Sandberg about bullying on Instagram and Facebook. She pushed her to defend Facebook against calls to break up the company and asked skeptically if the promised privacy reforms would be effective.
Several times, Ms. Sandberg conceded that the issues were difficult and that Facebook felt responsible, but she stopped short of saying that the company would take the type of decisive action demanded by civil liberty groups and academics.
Toward the end of the conversation, Ms. Couric posed the question that few were bold enough to ask Ms. Sandberg directly: “Since you are so associated with Facebook, how worried are you about your personal legacy as a result of your association with this company?” Ms. Sandberg didn’t skip a beat as she reverted to the message she had delivered from her first days at Facebook.
“I really believe in what I said about people having voice. There are a lot of problems to fix. They are real, and I have a real responsibility to do it. I feel honored to do it,” she said, with a steady voice and calm smile. She later told aides that inside, she was burning with humiliation.
A few days after Mr. Zuckerberg’s, Katie Couric interviewed Ms. Sandberg in Los Angeles and pushed her to defend Facebook against calls to break up the company.Credit…Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Good for the World or Facebook?
Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg still meet at the start and end of each week, signaling to the company, and to the outside world, that they remain in lock step. Friends and Facebook executives speak to their personal closeness.
When they first met, Mr. Zuckerberg realized that Ms. Sandberg could excel at the parts of the C.E.O. job that he found boring. In the 13 years they’ve been working together, Mr. Zuckerberg now understands that he cannot outsource some of those duties.
At least not to another person. He is concerned about the company’s position in the world, but he generally is less swayed by Ms. Sandberg’s view, or anyone else’s.
Instead, he relies on two internal metrics, known internally as GFW, Good-for-the-World, and CAU, Cares-about-the-world. Facebook constantly polls its own users on whether they saw Facebook as one or both of those things.
Both the numbers plummeted, and remained low, after the revelations about Russian election interference and data harvesting by Cambridge Analytica. For years, they failed to rise, no matter how many promises Facebook made to do better and how many new security programs the company started. Mr. Zuckerberg, who received the numbers weekly, told aides that eventually the tide would turn and people would start to see Facebook differently.
Privately, executives told each other there were other numbers that mattered more.
On Jan. 27, 2021, just weeks after the riots in Washington, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg joined an earnings call with investment analysts.
In yet another about-face decision on speech, Mr. Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was planning to de-emphasize political content in the News Feed because, he said, “people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our service.”
He was still making calls on the biggest policy decisions. The announcement was also a tacit acknowledgment of Facebook’s yearslong failure to control hazardous rhetoric running roughshod on the social network, particularly during the election. “We’re going to continue to focus on helping millions of more people participate in healthy communities,” he added.
Then Ms. Sandberg shifted the focus to earnings. “This was a strong quarter for our business,” she said. Revenue for the fourth quarter was up 33 percent, to $28 billion, “the fastest growth rate in over two years.”
Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang cover technology for The New York Times. They are the authors of the forthcoming book “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination,” from which this article is adapted.