Facebook reportedly used a Republican opposition-research firm and its connections to a Jewish civil-rights group to link the anti-Facebook movement to prominent liberal donor George Soros and claim that some criticism against the tech giant was anti-Semitic, The New York Times reports. Facing negative press, Facebook reportedly expanded its use of Definers Public Affairs, a firm founded by “veterans of Republican presidential politics,” to bash Facebook’s competitors and link Soros to anti-Facebook activists. A research document reportedly circulated by the firm this summer claimed Soros was an “unacknowledged force” behind the widespread condemnation of Facebook. A news site called NTK Network, an affiliate of Definers, also reportedly published articles that bashed Google and Apple for “unsavory business practices.” The Times reports that while NTK Network did not obtain large audiences, its content is often picked up by conservative sites like Breitbart.
After one protest sign depicted CEO Mark Zuckerberg as an octopus encompassing the globe, a Facebook official also reportedly called on the Anti-Defamation League to flag the sign as anti-semitic. “Depicting Jews as an octopus encircling the globe is a classic anti-Semitic trope,” the organization wrote in a tweet that afternoon. “Protest Facebook—or anyone—all you want, but pick a different image.” Conservative outlets like the Washington Free Beacon reportedly echoed the ADL’s sentiments, which had also sought to link the anti-Facebook movement to “extreme anti-Israel groups.”