Facebook is denying that it threatened to pull investments from Europe and Canada if demands from COO Sheryl Sandberg were not met — as a new trove of leaked documents provides a window into the tech giant’s extensive lobbying strategies.
Court documents reviewed by The Guardian and Computer Weekly show that Sandberg told EU and Canadian officials that if she did not receive assurances from them, the tech giant would consider other “options” for future investment and growth.
Although Canada gave her their written assurance later that same day, a Facebook spokesperson denied that anyone was threatened.
“This is not a threat,” Facebook told Business Insider. “Before we commit to opening a data center anywhere in the world, we want to make sure we fully understand the country’s laws and privacy protections. This is not a threat to withhold investment, but part of our duty to protect people’s data.”
Facebook’s “secretive global lobbying operation” targeted legislators and regulators in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and in all 28 states of the EU, The Guardian reported.
The documents reveal a range of tactics used by Facebook to curry favor with politicians and push for legislation that would benefit them, including lobbying EU officials to ease up on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), even using Sandberg’s memoir “Lean In” as a way to “bond with” female politicians, according to The Guardian.
A Facebook spokesperson pushed back on what the leaked documents reveal.
“Like the other documents that were cherry-picked and released in violation of a court order last year, these by design tell one side of a story and omit important context. As we’ve said, these selective leaks came from a lawsuit where Six4Three, the creators of an app known as Pikinis, hoped to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app’s users. These documents have been sealed by a Californian court so we’re not able to discuss them in detail,” Facebook told Business Insider.
This is not the first time that documents related to an ongoing lawsuit between Facebook and developer Six4Three have been leaked. Previously leaked documents revealed preferential agreements that Facebook gave to apps such as Lyft, Netflix and Airbnb, which allegedly allowed them to access users’ data.