Facebook staff have voiced a 'huge upswell' of support for Sheryl Sandberg after she reportedly feared for her job, says company exec

GettyFacebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
  • Facebook staff have rallied around COO Sheryl Sandberg after a series of scandals reportedly left her fearing for her job.
  • Mark Zuckerberg blamed her for the Cambridge Analytica debacle, The Wall Street Journal reported, while she also failed to spot Facebook using a PR firm to smear critics.
  • “There’s been a huge upswell of support internally for the work that Sheryl does,” said Patrick Walker, one of Facebook’s most senior executives outside the US.
  • Walker added that the internal debate around Facebook’s crisis management has been “robust.”

There has been a “huge upswell” of support for Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook after a series of scandals reportedly left the chief operating officer fearing for her job.

That’s according to Patrick Walker, one of Facebook’s most senior executives outside the US. Over a lunch with journalists on Tuesday, he said the backing of Sandberg among rank-and-file staff has been “remarkable.”

It follows questions over her handling of crises including Russian interference in the 2016 US election and the Cambridge Analytica data debacle earlier this year.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally blamed Sandberg for Cambridge Analytica, leaving her rattled and fearing for her job,The Wall Street Journal reported.

Sandberg also admitted that she should have known about Facebook hiring PR firm Definers Public Affairs to smear the company’s critics. Facebook has now cut ties with Definers and Zuckerberg said the firm’s PR team was responsible for the relationship.

Patrick WalkerInternational News Media Association/YouTubePatrick Walker, Facebook’s director of media partnerships in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Despite the missteps, Sandberg remains a popular figure internally, according to Walker. Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild event, he said: “There’s been a huge upswell of support internally for the work that Sheryl does. It’s a very difficult job that she’s in.

“The amount of support, and other executives who have worked with her within the company for so many years, who are rallying around this particular challenge has been remarkable. I have worked with her personally many, many times and feel for sure she has the best interests [of the company].”

“There’s been a very robust debate”

Walker, Facebook’s director of media partnerships in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, added that there has been a spirited debate internally since The New York Times last week published a blockbuster report on the social network’s crisis management.

Read more: Mark Zuckerberg’s spectacular failure of leadership shows why some Facebook investors are desperate to fire him

“There’s been a very robust debate, trust me, on trying to get some answers internally,” he said, adding: “If you were privy to some of the internal chats and discussions that are happening through Workplace [Facebook’s internal messaging system], you would probably be impressed with how open people can be directly to Mark and Sheryl.”

Walker said he has never worked at a company that has been under as much scrutiny as Facebook has over the past couple of years, but he insisted the morale among employees is still positive.

“The mood is still very, very high and people have a real sense of purpose and a real belief in the mission,” he continued.

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