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Facebook policy chief admits hiring PR firm to attack George Soros (theguardian.com)
245 points by cityzen 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



I have an immense dislike for the whole PR industry, and to a certain extent it astounds me that it's even legal.

PR boils down to manipulation of public opinion that can't be traced back to the source easily.

They are also used for things that would be too dirty / illegal to touch for a company itself, like fake reviews and fake online comments propagating a certain view.

I have long thought that there should be a public registry where you have to announce when and for what purpose you have hired a PR firm.


Also interesting to think about what it says about the business you're running if you need to engage in the PR tactics that are usually favoured by sinister political campaigns.

One would think that a business whose noble mission is to connect the world wouldn't be in need of such marketing.


I absolutely agree, and it falls in the same category as marketing. If a person is a marketer they are devoting their lives to manipulating the minds of others and that's just terrible.


I see PR as being much, much worse.

I also dislike marketing. It is manipulation that mostly works on a subconscious level, circumventing your rational thought.

But with marketing, at least it's obvious who the source is, and you can make a conscious effort to avoid it.

With PR, where pushing highly biased news articles on various news outlets is common, it's much harder.


> If a person is a marketer they are devoting their lives to manipulating the minds of others and that's just terrible.

That's ridiculous. Marketing has much broader meaning than you might think and it might be valuable activity giving information and sensible desire to the potential customers.

Also you are manipulating the minds of others by posting a comment here.

The claim marketing "manipulating the minds of others" is just flat out pointless.


I don't disagree that many(most? all?) successful marketing people approach the task in this fashion, but I wonder if we really have to do it that way.

For example, take the "community manager" role that is popular in some companies. This is a full on marketing role. The goal is to create good feelings about the product and build a community that people want to join around it. However, I don't see anything wrong with that per se. In fact, in many niche markets (craft beer is a good example), the community manager tries to promote the entire industry (to be fair, in the craft beer industry, converting the average mega beer drinker to craft beer is good for business). Often, these people are working 100% in concert with the desires of the consumer.

Also having to do with beer (hmmm... coincidence?), if you've ever spent time in the UK you know about the Weatherspoon pub chain. It is a massive company, with pubs everywhere. It undercuts the prices of the local, independent pubs and provides a kind of homogenised experience. But, good grief it does a good job. Every pub has an amazing selection of real ale in good condition -- sometimes at half the price of competing pubs. They have real ale and cider "festivals" and promote small breweries. They lobby the government for lower taxes on beer and work with the rest of the industry to create desirable business conditions for pubs (against the rising tide of cafes, wine bars and clubs). They save listed buildings and turn them into interesting venues. It's all of these actions that makes you think, "I just can't be against these guys, even if I want to support small independent pubs". I often wonder where the pub industry in the UK would be without Weatherspoons.

So I think it's possible to take your job as a marketing person and use it as an opportunity to do something good (at least from some people's perspective) when it aligns with your interests. When you get it really right, I think you start working very hard to find those opportunities and ideally concentrate on them exclusively. I'm even going to go so far as to say that it's not necessarily marketers who make this a very rare occurrence. I suspect doing something like that would be a dream job for many people. I think the normal marketing job is really the reality imposed upon them by the business. The business, as a whole, is not interested in making the world a better place. They are interested in making as much money as possible.

As a closing thought, I've often considered how wonderful a job in marketing or sales could be. What better job than to find someone that needs your product and introduce them to it? How amazing would it be to see people who are suffering and to think, "Hey, if they used our product instead, their life would be a lot better"? Instead, sales people are told, "Hey, we know our product sucks, but it's your job to sell it anyway. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. As long as we cut out our competitors, it doesn't matter how bad our product is. The customer will have to buy from us." It's that dynamic that makes marketing and sales a job from hell.


Odious though PR can be, in the USA it falls squarely under a unique legal doctrine known as “freedom of speech”, a privilege afforded even to commercial entities.


This doesnt violate OPs idea. You are free to say whatever you want, you just have to disclose it.


> to a certain extent it astounds me that it's even legal.

I prick up my ears when people start to talk about criminalizing speech.


Criminalizing PR is not criminalizing speech,it is criminalizing a financial transaction. It does not mean that PR firms cannot say some things, just that they cannot be paid for it.


"Criminalizing PR" is obviously criminalizing speech. It means you cannot post a comment on HN/reddit as a cloudflare CTO, cannot link to your commercial website on about section, etc.

And if only PR firms are regulated/criminalized, FB or whatever can still operate their own PR team. Then what is the point of the law?


How do you feel about disclosure rules similar to those regulating stock analysts?


Except when they are manipulating the market or defaming someone.


> there should be a public registry where you have to announce when and for what purpose you have hired a PR firm.

Sounds like another unnecessary bullshit government regulation possibly harassing the freedom of speech on the internet.


I still love that the story here is that Facebook hired people to say something true about George Soros. NYT, etc. are reporting that someone else saying something true about Soros is bad.

I’m not clear on what the motives are, but it feels Orwellian that we now have news stories that smear people for telling the truth. I guess some anti-Semites don’t like George Soros, so the reasoning is that any criticism or even mention of George Soros must be anti-Semitic.

I’d like to hear some coherent refutation to this. Why is this story at all controversial when Soros did, in fact, fund FB critics? I’ll entertain any reasons other than, “Nazis.”


Facebook's actions are controversial for a few reasons.

1. Their focus was Soros. They were criticised, and they essentially said "we haven't done anything wrong that needs to be addressed, he must have another motive for criticising us, find out if he's going to get rich from this somehow". They set out to attempt to discredit Soros, for the crime of criticising them.

2. Having failed to find a financial motive, they did discover that he was funding a FB pressure group (which you might expect of a wealthy critic). That was then used to smear the group, among the people for whom "is funded by Soros" is an effective smear.

3. Many of the people appealed to in (2) are anti-semitic. It's why the smear works. It's therefore an anti-semitic act to use Soros as a smear in this way.

In sum: they used their financial power to attack a critic of theirs with an ad hominem smear that had an anti-semitic basis. That's not the act of a laudable organisation. It's a controversial act.


2 and 3 are also true of Soros attacking Facebook. So in effect you’re saying that Zuckerberg, Soros, and Sandberg - all jews - are antisemetic.

Soros funded smear groups focused on Facebook. Facebook responding in kind doesn’t strike me as better or worse than what Soros did. Bringing antisemitism into it is a stretch.


> So in effect you’re saying that Zuckerberg, Soros, and Sandberg - all jews - are antisemetic.

No, Facebook critics are saying that FB was OK with undermining its critics at all costs, even if that meant dogwhistling for anti-Semitic trolls.


How is Facebook correctly pointing out that Soros funded a smear campaign against them a dog whistle? Is it not possible to criticize money in politics if they’re anyone other than WASPs like the Kochs?


If Facebook was so correct, why did they hire a PR firm to launder that claim?

I'll repeat something I posted in my other comment: Do you believe that George Soros is also actively behind a campaign to destroy Tesla [0]? Reveal has received money through Soros's Open Society Foundations [1].

[0] https://www.revealnews.org/article/inside-teslas-factory-a-m...

https://www.revealnews.org/article/tesla-left-injuries-off-t...

[1] https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/why-dont-we-hear-about-soros...


Soros is also laundering his attacks...

Perhaps I’m being naive but I see two Jewish business leaders fighting a proxy war — and yet one is called antisemitic and one is not. And I suspect it’s because people are only attacking the side they disagree with politically.


You aren’t being naive, but you may be credulous. Whereas there is evidence that FB hired someone specifically to undermine their critics, where is the evidence that Soros commanded his philanthropic grantees to wage an attack against Facebook?


The fact that you provided no evidence to back up your beliefs, but stated only the race of these people, implies that to you, race alone is enough to implicate these people. That is racism.


The fact you see them as Jews and not just People shows your anti-Semitic bias to be honest.


Because he did no such thing. Freedom From Facebook was actually funded by some other lefty with deep pockets. Definers saying a thing doesn’t make it true.

Edit: looks like some Soros money was sloshing around in there, but the primary funding was from elsewhere.

[1] https://www.wired.com/story/freedom-from-facebook-open-marke...


It is possible to criticize money in politics; that's not what Facebook was doing. In fact, Facebook was spending money on politics.

Their act was a dog whistle because it was done with the intent of discrediting Soros (to protect Facebook from his criticisms), and the main way it could achieve that was by appealing to the anti-semites.


Yea pretty much, I thought we all agreed post WW2 that critiquing jews = antisemitism.


I think for (1), it's completely fair for a company to investigate the potential financial motivations of their critics (for example, people were not this upset when Google pointed out that the "search rankings are rigged" "independent" agencies were actually just Yelp and Microsoft paying for an attack.) I think the fact that a supposedly grassroots organization of protestors received a slew of money from a variety of significant liberal donors does point out that this isn't as grassroots as people think.

There was so much else that FB did wrong (Stamos admitted in his WaPo opinion piece that Sheryl was upset at him for telling the board about Russia and that PR pieces about that were obfuscated). Why is the media so focused on what seems to me to be a routine investigation which even they engage in? This just doesn't seem like a winning argument to me.


> 3

That's ridiculous. Every antisemite eats, does that make eating antisemitic? Most people on the right don't like when Soros pays for protestors. 75% of Orthodox Jews support Trump. Most of whom I assume disagree with Soros. Are they also antisemitic?


>the story here is that Facebook hired people to say something true about George Soros

Well no that’s not really the story.

The story is really that FB hired a PR agency to dig up dirt to personally attack a FB critic, and tried to hide the truth that they were behind the PR campaign targeting an individual. Further, Zuckerburg publicly denied it.

The story is about FB coming clean, that they did hire a political consulting firm to discredit a FB critic, and acknowledge FB later falsely claimed they didn’t do what they in fact did.

Is it not scary to you a Company like FB would, under shield on anonymity, hire a PR firm to publicly discredit someone? And you don’t take any issue with the idea FB (Zuckerburg) later falsely denied FB hired the Firm to target and discredit an individual?

If it wasn’t a big deal FB wouldn’t have hired a firm to target an individual to discredit them, and hide behind the cloak of anonymity. They wouldn’t have subsequently publicly denied their behavior. And they wouldn’t have come clean on Thanksgiving eve in attempt to sweep the story under the rug (it’s never an accident when companies publish bad news before a long weekend and it’s telling).


>Is it not scary to you a Company like FB would under shield on anonymity hire a PR firm to publicly discredit someone? And you don’t take any issue with the idea the later falsely denied hiring the Firm to discredit an individual?

This happens all the time. Theranos literally did this when they hired Fusion GPS for air cover and that’s just one recent example of many. It’s credibility laundering and anyone can pay organizations like Definers that get outlets like NYT and WsJ to publish ‘credible’ scoops

https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2018/03/15/elizabeth-holme...


1. Because something happens “all the time” doesn’t make it news worthy? Or concerning/scary behavior.

2. From what you linked it’s not clear Theranos did the same thing (ie hired a firm to dig up dirt on an individual and attack them in the media, got caught and lied about it).

But if Theranos did the same exact thing as FB and what you linked to states that...well isn’t that proof such behavior is newsworthy.


> This happens all the time.

That doesn't make it less scary or dysfunctional. It undermines the health of politics and society when this is acceptable behaviour.


>This happens all the time.

That makes it all the more frightening


>This happens all the time.

So is this an argument that the behavior is acceptable?


Because there are so many true things that any communication is doomed to include only a small number of truths, the truths that are chosen to be told are just as revealing as the lies, if not more so. I would argue that it is yet more revealing a PR firm is hired to amplify specific truths. I'm reading an interesting book about this right now: Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality by Hector Macdonald.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming there is or should be anything illegal about this, but I certainly reserve the right to make judgements of companies that I might work for or do business with based on both the lies and the truths they choose to advocate for.


In the very simplest form, because there's a large class of people for whom "We're being attacked by Soros" translates directly to "We're being attacked by a massive globalist (read: Jewish) cabal", and Facebook appears to have exploited this. It's a clear dogwhistle in my opinion.


There's a few issues in play: (1) the content of the story, (2) the presentation of the story, (3) the intent to mislead.

You've focused on 1 and then used 2 against critics: 'smear people for telling the truth'. But doesn't that criticism apply to the original stories about Soros? How do you tell a smear from a balanced story? Doesn't that require understanding who is telling it and what they have at stake? In which case, 3 becomes relevant.

Also, you've pulled a straw-man on the anti-semitic front: that's not part of the article or argument. Pragmatically, a well-intentioned actor would show an effort to make criticism explicitly anti-semitic, given the racist undertones to large parts of the discussion.

It could definitely be done, but not making an effort on that part _when it is your job to know how the communication will be received_ is a signal that you don't mind the inference being made.

They might not be implying something racist, but they know others will infer something racist and they still went ahead. Do you think that is acceptable behaviour?


It's not just about whether Soros money went to groups that funded Facebook critics. Soros donates to a lot of progressive groups, you'd be hard to find any single company/organization that have not been criticized by a group that has ever taken Soros money. For example, Soros's Open Society Institute has made grants [0] to many media orgs, such as the Center for Investigative Reporting -- better known to HN readers as Reveal for publishing recent stories about unsafe conditions at Tesla. The very same Tesla that Soros himself has had a stake in [1] to improve its stock price.

So if Facebook wants to make a non-dogwhistling good-faith claim that Soros is attempting to profit from the destruction of Facebook, the burden of evidence is on them to make the case that Facebook is indeed being specifically targeted by Soros, in a way that say, Tesla isn't. If they had that evidence, and they weren't just trying to dog whistle for all the folks who think Soros is a Jewish globalist puppetmaster, then it raises the question of why they went through an intermediary who pushed anti-Soros stories through well known right-wing trolls?

To put it another way, a true fact about George Soros is that he is Jewish. Would you see any problem if Facebook funded a PR group to push news stories focusing solely on the fact that George Soros is totally a Jew? Or to use another example, how about if that firm pushed stories about how Barack Obama spent his early life living with a white teenage woman, another very true fact? [2]

edit: added link for the fact about Obama

[0] https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/why-dont-we-hear-about-soros...

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-bonds-analysis/geor...

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/24/magazine/mag-24Obama-t.ht...


"Would you see any problem if Facebook funded a PR group to push news stories focusing solely on the fact that George Soros is totally a Jew?"

I see a problem with demonizing Facebook and their management based on things we imagine they could do if they were in fact evil.


> Soros donates to a lot of progressive groups, you'd be hard to find any single company/organization that have not been criticized by a group that has ever taken Soros money

> for all the folks who think Soros is a Jewish globalist puppetmaster

I wonder if that’s because he is a billionaire Jew who funds a lot of fringe globalist progressive groups?


Could you define what you mean by "fringe", "globalist" and "progressive" here?


What exactly confuses you about these terms?

I’m not here to play word games.


If is a centuries old anti-Semitic trope to see powerful, evil but smart Jews behind everything. If you forget it (but what would you), it's still fallacious

> Ad hominem (Latin for "to the person"[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.


"If is a centuries old anti-Semitic trope to see powerful, evil but smart Jews behind everything."

Of course, but I get that vibe from some of the criticism of Stephen Miller I read, too. I bet there are not too many people defensive of Miller and Soros equally.


Right, but what is weird in this case is that the person who calls the company run by the two smart jews evil is jewish himself.


Why is it weird for a person to dislike the actions of a company run by other people?

Or are you surprised that Jews are not a homogenous group that all think the same?


Soros is 88 years old.

He gave all his money to the Open Society Foundation. OS receives funding from multiple sources. OS is funding a lot of organizations around the world based on decisions by tens of committees.

Does that mean that everything these thousands of organizations do are paid by Soros?


He created Open Society Foundation and fundementally shaped its vision and direction, so yes, absolutely.


at 88 years old he makes every decision about organizations that OS sponsors. Highly doubt it.


What I don’t understand is why everybody is swallowing this latest admission of guilt by FB as the whole truth. Isn’t it just so convenient that the man responsible for this latest clusterfuck is already on his way out?

I mean, what are the chances that neither Zuck nor Sandberg knew absolutely nothing about this? It’s just too convenient to have this guy jump on the grenade to spare upper management. I don’t buy it for a second.


>Isn’t it just so convenient that the man responsible for this latest clusterfuck is already on his way out?

Exactly...I mean as a publicly traded company maybe this should be investigated. I’d start by taking a look at the severance package/golden parachute the departed received.


Precisely. 10 bucks says this guy got a substantial increase in severance package directly tied to him taking the fall for this.


A law enforcement agency can't investigate unless there is reason to believe a particular law was broken. Congress could though.


Well I don’t think it’s to difficult to pursue the same charges against Sheryl Sandburg that landed Martha Stewart in jail.

Many falsely believe Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading but she actually went to jail for claiming she would be found innocent of the insider trading charges which the prosecution alleged she did for the sole purpose of manipulating the actual Martha Stewart Inc stock price, which would have tanked otherwise. 1st amendment rights to publicly claim her innocence offered her no protection.

Here we have facts that Sheryl Sandberg publicly posted on FB that FB didn’t hire the PR Firm and much less hire a PR Firm to publicly attack Soros.

With the release of these new facts, Sheryl Sandburg admitted in fact she did get memos and emails about FB hiring the Firm (and I believe the purpose). So one must ask why the initial public lie?

Did Sandberg know or have reason to know:think if the truth came out FB stock may have dipped? I’d say yes and if they can make the case against Martha Stewart that was the case with her public statement of innocence for unrelated insider trading charges, then a case could be made here, that Sandberg knowingly lied about FB hiring this PR Firm because admitting the same would have hurt FBs stock price.


Sandberg admitted that it “came across her desk”.


[Edit] found the source article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/business/on-thanksgiving-...

<snip>

This is a change from just a few days ago, when Facebook wrote on Nov. 15 that the Times report was full of “inaccuracies.” The same day, Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, posted on her Facebook page that she had no idea the company had hired Definers.

“I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing,” Ms. Sandberg said, adding, “I have great respect for George Soros.” But in the Thanksgiving eve memo, Ms. Sandberg issued an about-face, acknowledging that the Republican-oriented company’s work had crossed her desk.

“Some of their work was incorporated into materials presented to me,” Ms. Sandberg wrote, ”and I received a small number of emails where Definers was referenced.”

</snip>

So just to recap, this is Sandberg admitting that he had some, limited knowledge of the plan, after she had previously publicly claimed she had no idea about it.

This is really one of those times that calls for a “cool story, bro.”



Does it really matter? Anyone can see he is taking the hit for the executive team. He’s a “lame duck” in the sense he already he announced he was leaving months ago.


Zuckerberg and Sandberg need to own the hiring of the PR firm. It does not matter whether they knew or not. Most C level executives don't know what most of the company's employees are doing but the problem here is that Zuckerberg and Sandberg have created a company culture where this type malfeasance is accepted. I'm sure there were plenty of subordinates to the policy chief that knew about the hiring yet they never notified the executive team.

Not knowing is not a pass. They need to own it.

But I think one of them knew.


biased article: it's hard to take it seriously when a billionaire involved in unsavory investing in his heyday is described as someone "exercising their first amendment rights to protest Facebook’s role". Didn't facebook's exec have exactly the same right ?


This seems like something straight out of the Scientology playbook.


Facebook is quickly becoming the de facto Great Firewall of the world.

Of course there will be conflict with world-scale ideologues like Soros.

Of course there will be an elaborate dance between Facebook and US politicians who want to control more and more aspects of the firewall.

In case it’s not clear, facebook’s news feed algorithm is a content filter and in many ways it performs (or can be adapted to perform) much the same function as China’s Great Firewall, which is suppression of dissent and certain political ideas.

But compared to China’s Firewall, Facebook has orders of magnitude more power because it has significantly more metadata about each person.


i dont think the hyperbole helps in anything. there are other avenues, and nobody can force me to use facebook.


That’s a correct but ultimately naive perspective. So many of the other systems (such as news publishing) are closely intertwined with Facebook and strive to publish content that will be maximally boosted by the algorithm.


you 're grossly overstating the amount of traffic that facebook brings to news sites. It's about 10%.


Googled it and saw 35% at the peak declining by 25% which would be around 26%.

But that is not the important metric. When an article goes viral the traffic is essentially free.


that would be 35% of referral traffic, which is approximately 50% of total traffic? https://www.recode.net/2018/2/15/17013618/google-facebook-tr...

the stats differ depending on the source, but there is clearly a huge drop for facebook past years.


True the exact numbers are hard to pin down. My point is that articles gaining traction on social media is viewed as a major dimension of editorial strategy (as is obvious by the dramatic increase in clickbait headlines), because once a story goes viral it is all upside for the paper's own views and ad sales.

This was either already incentivized by the internal incentives given to editors and writers, or incentives have been adapted (by papers that have survived) to take this valuable channel into strong consideration when deciding how to phrase something.


They are throwing this guy under the bus to avoid embarrassment for Mark and Sheryl. Hopefully the general public will see past this.


Of course they were going to find a scapegoat for all this mess.


It's extremely disingenuous to assume that attacks on George Soros are necessarily anti-Semitic. Soros is a quintessential politically-active-billionaire bogeyman like the Koch brothers, or Sheldon Adelson (who is also Jewish). In fact, Zuckerberg and Sandberg are Jewish themselves, and I don't think they're necessarily the self-hating type.

Sure, actual anti-Semites probably also criticize George Soros, but (a) of course they would, and (b) why the fuck are you paying attention to those bozos anyway?

Of course, accusing people of anti-Semitism is, in reality, usually a dog-whistle for calling them Nazis.


I would argue it's extremely disingenuous to not recoginize that the crowds that blame Soros for everything have a distinctly anti-Semitic streak. You would have to be either blind or deliberately ignoring the massive dog whistles.


Being Jewish isn't his only defining characteristic. There's also the fact that he's a billionaire who is politically active.

I would argue it's extremely disingenuous to not recoginize that the crowds that blame Soros for everything could very likely have a distinctly anti-billionaire streak.


This is an extremely disingenuous guilt-by-association argument that groups together "generic conservatives who gripe about billionaires financing their political adversaries" with "anti-Semitic nutjobs".

There are anti-Semites in many movements, both left and right. Louis Farrakhan has been openly anti-Semitic for years. Jesse Jackson has referred to New York City as "Hymietown". Should we dismiss the entire black civil rights movement as "crowds with a distinctly anti-Semitic streak", or should we condemn Farrakhan and Jackson personally while acknowledging that not all of the people they work with share their most repugnant views?

Should we dismiss the UK Labour Party as a "crowd with a distinctly anti-Semitic streak" because of Jeremy Corbyn's uncomfortably friendly comments about Hamas?

Let's also not miss the facts that (a) much of the criticism towards Facebook has been directed at Mark Zuckerberg personally, (b) Mark Zuckerberg happens to be Jewish, and (c) there is also no shortage of anti-Semites who make the connection between A and B. But, because it doesn't serve the media's vested interests to protect Zuckerberg the way they protect Zuckerberg's critics (remember that Facebook is a direct competitor to the mainstream media), they don't go out of their way to point out this connection.


a) Anti-Semites rarely make any effort to criticize Sheldon Adelson, though, and b) because ignoring them doesn't lead them to disappear, since the popularity of falsehoods is well understood to exceed that of truth over the short run.


I do not think the best way to fight anti-Semitism is to widely publicize every anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, publicize the Jewish ethnicity of every controversial figure, and accuse as many people as possible of being anti-Semitic.

I do think that's the best way to convince yourself and those who already agree with you that everyone on the other side is a Nazi.


Good thing I'm not doing that then. I have very particular criteria for deciding whether someone is a Nazi and reject your insinuation.


>It's extremely disingenuous to assume that attacks on George Soros are necessarily anti-Semitic.

The messages may be paid for by people with other overall intents, but the receptive audience for the messages is people like that recent bomb maker. And the people paying for the messages know this.

I could tell people all day long that something was being funded by Warren Buffet and nobody would give a shit. Tell them it is funded by Soros and suddenly you have raised a following crowd of prime fuckwits and I do not think it is because he is Hungarian.

edit - assembled prime fuckwits, you know who you are, there is a reason I picked Warren Buffet for comparison and once you have bothered to look it up, you are really not going to like it.


But wouldn't that be on them always ethically? Exposing evidence that definitively proves Bill Cosby is a rapist might cause some idiot to try lynching black men as all rapists but that doesn't mean reporting him suddenly becomes immoral.


Warren Buffett generally isn't a political financier. The Koch brothers and George Soros are.


And I am generally not sarcastic. No, really.


So why did you pick Warren Buffett for comparison? I did look it up, and do not see what point you were trying to make.


He was one of Obama's first funders, advisers and public fundraisers, way back when Obama was still a senator. It is very unlikely that Obama would have become and then stayed president without Warren Buffett's initial and continued support.

Warren Buffett is a liberal, very politically involved billionaire philanthropist, very much like George Soros, but with quite literally ten times as much money and political influence.

Furthermore, he has promised to spend all of this money on fluffy liberal causes and social welfare programs and all sorts of other scary commie-sounding stuff before he dies. And he is very old.

Yet, where the hell are all the Warren Buffett conspiracies? He must feel really left out.


It's easier for each side to have one designated boogeyman. Why do the Koch Brothers take all the heat from progressives when there's still Sheldon Adelson and Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel?


>Why do the Koch Brothers take all the heat from progressives when there's still Sheldon Adelson and Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel?

I'm not sure they do. Mercer particularly is getting a lot of flack right now.

I just find it slightly odd that people put George Soros up as some scary liberal billionaire kingmaker while completely and utterly ignoring an actual liberal billionaire kingmaker.


Yes, Buffett is liberal and has donated to political candidates, but Soros funds a number of left-wing organizations, PACs, and movements. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_projects_supported_by_...

I have no issue with these organizations. I support many of them, and am left-wing and Jewish myself, but it's not a smear to say he's a significant backer of the causes of the left in the same way the Koch brothers are significant backers of the causes of the libertarian-right.

Buffett isn't nearly as influential as Soros or the Koch brothers in terms of political spending. He has spent and is continuing to spend a lot on philanthropy, but not specifically to ideologically and overtly left-wing organizations, other than the kinds of donations almost all rich people make (for several reasons), like ones to prominent political candidates and the main two political parties.


>Buffett isn't nearly as influential as Soros or the Koch brothers in terms of political spending.

He is the only one of those three to have successfully backed, funded, be the economic adviser for and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from, a two term US President.

Also, he gives out vast amount of money, far more than Soros, mainly because he has far more money, to things ranging across a variety of progressive causes such as universal public health, refugee rights and support, sexual rights, family planning, and campaigning for global nuclear disarmament. He is every bit the activist politically involved liberal billionaire.


He spends more, but on different things than what Soros funds.


Some people hate Soros because of his role in the Asian financial crisis, where he literally broke banks which resulted in many going into poverty. He has also shorted the British pound and other currencies, so I imagine that there are people mad at him for that too.


I don't follow what you're trying to get at with Warren Buffett. What are you referring to that people won't like?


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I can't believe I'd see someone the whole pull the whole 'paid protestor' nonsense here on HN but here we are.

The reason why people dismiss a lot of criticism against Soros is because a lot of the criticism is not based in reality, period. I am more than happy to criticize rich billionaires but the meme around Soros is clearly based around the anti-Semitic idea of a Jewish cabal running everything behind the scene rather than any sort of issue with wealth.


Downvote such commentators. It is a common tactic of racists to write anti-semitic comments and pretend that they are only asking innocent questions.


Really the thing is that said criticisms need actual substance to be legitimate. Every kook blames him for stuff that happens anyway. People protest or riot when angry about something. A pattern of innuendos doesn't mean anything other than some people hate him. Hillary Clinton isn't a leader of a cabal of assassins.

Vladmir Putin also has plenty of innuendos about killing people. However he actually does have them and has taken pains to make it clear it was him doing stuff like using rare nerve agents instead of any far cheaper method of assassination - just common cyanide in a large enough dose kills just as well as polonium, better in fact but it causes too quick and clean a death for terror purposes.


I don't disagree that some criticisms need substance! Lacking substance is part of why it's sometimes rather easy to make the play that critics are conspiracy kooks. Do you have any advice for how to better express what I wanted to express, which is that it's what people believe he has funded (some of it founded, some of it not) and not that he has Jewish ancestry that gets him so much flack? I thought the "alleged" qualifier might be sufficient, but clearly not since I still have someone indirectly calling me a racist.


Not even if you stick it in quotes.

Why are people accusing him of unfounded stuff, as you say they are doing. What is their reason to make up or spread unfounded accusations that rile these other folks up that you mention, why are they doing that, do you think?


Perhaps you're right that the people who allege the unfounded stuff are doing so for anti-semetic reasons, it doesn't follow that the people who believe such allegations and repeat them do so because of anti-semetic reasons. I admit some of them will. I just find there's a simpler explanation in that the particular stuff, founded or unfounded, is undesirable in itself to many people, independent of whether it's a Jewish person doing it or not. Put another way, the criticisms I see associated with Soros are always in relationship to some alleged act. I imagine there are criticisms of Soros that are nothing but some reminder that he has Jewish heritage (like that parentheses wrapping thing around Jewish names a couple years ago) and those you could call clear anti-semite criticisms. You'd see such people do the same to any Jewish person who does nothing but give their surplus wealth to GiveWell. But you won't see the same relatively intense response on that hypothetical Jewish person, because there's not a critical mass of non anti-semites who disapprove of giving to GiveWell, but there is a critical mass of non anti-semites who disapprove of the mission statements of groups Soros' money has helped finance (or is alleged to help finance).


Well the closest prior thing to substance in the deluge I heard from prior to 2012 were insinuations about his currency trading being harmful in some way. Details in something like that or another questionable practice would be worthy of discussion even if one can reasonably disagree if it is right, wrong, or remotely proportionate. If everyone makes bets against countries they think will decline there is nothing to condemn for betting against the pound post Brexit if they think it is how the market will go.

For an example of the last going on about say Obama's college essays don't really mean anything in comparison to what he has actually done - it looks to be downright racism in holding him to a different standard bring and not care about say Rick Perry getting D in a course called "Meats".

You could reasonably call him out on say his foreign policy continuing bad practices or what he signed. Calling him an athiest Muslim who prays in a mosque communist born in Kenya would just be bigotted literal nonsense.


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Internet meme silliness brought you Gamergate, then Breitbart brewed that into the alt-right.


and remember, don’t be not evil.




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