Profits & Scandals: Highlights of Sheryl Sandberg's Journey at Meta

Sandberg was largely responsible for growing Facebook's advertising business into the mammoth that it is today.

Tech News
4 min read
Hindi Female
Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad

Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from her position as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Meta this fall, after spending 14 years as second-in-command at the company.

Sandberg will continue to serve on Meta's board of directors and the company's current Chief Growth Officer Javier Olivan will take her job.

"It is time for me to write the next chapter of my life," she wrote in a Facebook post.

Sandberg was the first woman to sit on Facebook's board and is credited with making the company profitable. However, she was also involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other controversies that have plagued Meta through the years.

Here are the highlights of her time at Meta:


Joining Facebook & Making it Profitable

Before joining Facebook in 2008, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, where she built the online sales channels for advertising, among other things. She was also involved in launching, the company's philanthropic arm.

Before that, she served as the Chief of Staff for the United States Treasury Department under Bill Clinton where she helped lead efforts on forgiving debt in the developing world during the Asian financial crisis.

With that kind of experience under her belt, Sandberg joined Facebook as the COO, after she met Mark Zuckerberg at a party. At this point, the company was mainly interested in building a good product and hadn't quite figured out how to generate profits.

Sandberg was largely responsible for growing its advertising business into the mammoth that it is today. By September 2009, Facebook posted its first profit which continued to grow at a blistering pace in the following years.

By 2012, Sandberg was elected to the company's board as its eighth member and first woman member.

“Sheryl Sandberg had an enormous impact on Facebook, Meta, and the broader business world. She helped Facebook build a world-class ad-buying platform and develop groundbreaking ad formats,” Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at Insider Intelligence, told AP.


2016 US Elections: Russian Interference & Cambridge Analytica

The first major controversy surrounding Sandberg came in 2018 when The New York Times reported that Facebook ignored and then attempted to conceal the full extent of how Russia used the platform to interfere in the 2016 US Elections.

The report described how Zuckerberg and Sandberg made efforts to suppress internal investigations into the Russian misinformation campaigns and later tried to deflect public scrutiny onto Facebook’s competitors.

Sandberg, in a Facebook post, acknowledged that she and Zuckerberg were “too slow” to respond to the Russian interference on the site, but denied claims that they tried to ignore and hide the truth.

In 2018, it was also discovered that personal data of millions of Facebook users was collected without consent and used by British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to influence the US elections. Firms across the world were mining such data to influence local politics.

The revelation prompted a widespread uproar against Facebook and lawmakers began putting increased pressure on the company through regulation and investigations.

Zuckerberg told Sandberg that he blamed her and her teams for the public fallout over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and that she should have been more aggressive in allocating resources to review problematic content on the site, according to The Wall Street Journal.

She reportedly told her friends that the exchange had left her wondering if she should be worried about her job.


Investigating Facebook-Critic George Soros

Shortly after, in November 2018, The New York Times published another report that, Definers, a PR firm hired by Facebook, was trying to plant the idea that billionaire George Soros was behind the growing anti-Facebook movement.

After Soros attacked Facebook and Google as a "menace" to society at the World Economic Forum, Sandberg had asked Facebook’s communications staff to look into his financial interests, suggesting she was directly involved in the affair, according to the publication.

Facebook fired Definers after the report emerged, but not before it was accused of being responsible for anti-Semitic attacks against the billionaire.

“I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have. I have great respect for George Soros – and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent,” Sandberg later said.


Pressuring a Publication into Silence

Most recently, it has emerged that Sandberg was part of a coordinated effort between 2016 and 2019 to prevent the Daily Mail from publishing a story about a temporary restraining order given to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick by a former girlfriend, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The two, who were reportedly dating at the time, worked with a team which included Facebook and Activision employees to pressure the Daily Mail to not publish the article, the report said.

One of the reasons behind this was that Sandberg’s legal and public-relations advisers were worried that Daily Mail's story would tarnish her reputation as an advocate for women, according to the publication.

Facebook, after the news broke, reportedly started a review of her actions and whether her conduct violated any company rules. The results of this review, if any, were never made public.

(With inputs from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.)

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Topics:  Instagram   Facebook   Mark Zuckerberg 

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