Facebook Inc. (FB) investors appeared unmoved by new reports alleging that Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg ordered staff to investigate the financial interests of billionaire George Soros as part of an attack on the man who also has become the target of right wing conspiracy theorists and commentators.
Shares were down just a few cents from Thursday's close of $138.68 at the market's open Friday, and rose to above $139 after 10 a.m. ET, a day after the New York Times reported that three unnamed persons with knowledge inside the company told the paper that Sandberg was involved in Facebook's campaign against Soros.
The Times first detailed earlier in the month that Facebook had hired the right-leaning opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs to buttress efforts to make Soros look bad after he had publicly criticized technology giants like Facebook and called for governments to more tightly regulate them.
Sandberg had earlier denied any role in the hiring of the Definers, posting on her Facebook page after the Times' expose, "I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have. I have great respect for George Soros - and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent."
A week later, the company's exiting communications and policy chief, Elliot Schrage, admitted just before Thanksgiving that Facebook was using Definers, which had been fired earlier.
Several reports painted Schrage's post as a way to take the hit for Sandberg. The accusations followed the widely publicized allegations that Facebook did too little too late to stop its site from being used to spread untrue stories during the 2016 election and become unwittingly abused to influence voters.