Longtime Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg was involved in a pressure campaign against the Daily Mail on two occasions to convince the publication’s leadership to drop an unflattering story about her then-boyfriend, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Sandberg dated video game executive Robert Kotick, who runs Activision Blizzard, for several years. She is the chief operating officer of Meta Platforms Inc., the name for Facebook’s new corporate parent after the company reorganized last year, and held the same role at the social media giant for more than a decade.
In 2016 and again in 2019, the Journal reported, Sandberg and Kotick ― along with Facebook and Activision employees and paid external advisers ― worked to convince the Daily Mail’s online editors not to publish a story about a restraining order that an ex-girlfriend of Kotick’s had obtained against him in 2014.
The ex-girlfriend now says she exaggerated her claims about Kotick, and the Daily Mail’s reporters understood that, according to the Journal. But Sandberg and her team reportedly still worried about the negative impact the story could have on her reputation as an advocate for women.
Sandberg founded an advocacy group, LeanIn.org, based off the title of her 2013 bestseller, to encourage women to pursue government and business leadership roles.
Facebook is now reportedly investigating Sandberg’s role in the Daily Mail pressure campaign, given Facebook’s outsize influence over the digital news media industry ― which was even more pronounced in the past. Digital news has largely struggled with a shift in the online advertising marketplace toward tech giants like Facebook, leading to widespread layoffs and shuttered digital publications.
The Daily Mail did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.