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Facebook ads ask company employees to 'anonymously' leak information

The Facebook logo on a broken screen of a mobile phone.
The Facebook logo on a broken screen of a mobile phone. Copyright Joel Saget AFP - Getty Images file
Copyright Joel Saget AFP - Getty Images file
By Didi Martinez with NBC News Tech and Science News
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Freedom from Facebook's campaign comes less than a week after the coalition submitted a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission asking them to consider fining and breaking up the company.


A Facebook opposition group is now using the social media platform's tools against them — this time to get employees to leak information.

Freedom from Facebook, a coalition of organizations calling for stricter regulations on the tech giant, announced Tuesday that it has launched a Facebook ad buy to "offer Facebook employees who feel uncomfortable with recent events to voice their concerns."

"Are you worried about what's happening inside Facebook? Share your concerns confidentially and anonymously," reads a screenshot of the ads, provided by Freedom from Facebook.

According to a press release on the buy, Facebook employees who see the ad will be able to "anonymously" submit tips using the group's website or encrypted email.

Freedom from Facebook spokesperson Carli Kientzle confirmed to NBC News that they were able to target the ads using profile information from users who have Facebook listed as their employer.

It remains unclear, however, whether the ads have been able to run without incident or whether the company is actively keeping track of who sees them.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had reportedly told employees at a company meeting Friday that he will fire anyone who leaks information to the media, according to The New York Times.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Freedom from Facebook's recent ad buy.

The move is the latest in the saga of the group's clash with the tech giant following a Nov. 14 report from The New York Times that detailed how Facebook had hired a public relations firm, Definers Public Affairs, to discredit Facebook critics including Freedom from Facebook.

Facebook and Definers have come under particular scrutiny over documents sent to journalists that linked Freedom from Facebook to George Soros through Colors of Change, a racial justice nonprofit that backs Freedom from Facebook and is funded by Soros.

Demonstrators hold up signs protesting Facebook during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on July 17, 2018.
Demonstrators hold up signs protesting Facebook during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on July 17, 2018.Joshua Roberts

Tim Miller, a partner at Definers, has since issued a statement Friday saying he was merely trying to point out that the groups opposing Facebook may not be "grassroots" after all.

The fallout from the Times report has been swift, with Facebook announcing Thursday that it terminated the company's relationship with Definers. Politicians and activists have called for more information on Facebook's relationship with Definers.

Zuckerberg and the company's chief operating officerSheryl Sandberg have since put on a united front on the matter, admitting that they should have known about the PR firm's hiring and work.

Zuckerberg also addressed critics' calls for his resignation as board chairman Tuesday, telling CNN that it wasn't going to happen.

"I'm not gonna be doing this forever, but I'm certainly — I'm not currently thinking that that makes sense," he said, adding that he hopes Sandberg will also choose to stay on.

Butinternally, tensions within the company continue to mount, NBC reported earlier this week.

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