Trump’s presidency drove a wedge between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg thanks, in part, to clashing views on how to tackle Trump’s hate speech on the platform

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg stand in front of silver and blue balloons.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg Courtesy of Facebook
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his COO, Sheryl Sandberg, grew apart during Trump’s presidency, a new book claims, per the NYT.
  • The execs often disagreed over how to tackle Trump’s hate speech and misinformation on the platform.
  • Sandberg felt like she had little influence on his decision-making over moderation policies.

A new book claims that the Trump presidency strained relations between Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, according to excerpts adapted by the New York Times.

The book, titled “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination,” describes a gradual breakdown in a once close CEO-COO relationship thanks to their differing views on how to respond to former President Donald Trump’s hate speech and misinformation on the platform, its authors said, who wrote the NYT’s adaptation.

The book is based on more than 400 interviews that include current and former Facebook employees, per the NYT.

The authors said in the article that Zuckerberg elevated several senior executives to his inner circle over the course of the Trump presidency, where he had traditionally prioritized Sandberg.

After Sandberg took the Facebook COO role in 2008, she was instrumental in building the tech platform’s ad business, propelling the company to its $1 trillion valuation in June. But controversies relating to the platform’s role in influencing the 2016 election, such as by enabling consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest millions of its users’ data – have tarnished the tech giant’s reputation.

The book claims that Facebook workers were frustrated with Sandberg’s inaction over comments Zuckerberg had made in a speech in 2017, per the NYT – the billionaire CEO told audiences at Georgetown University that it was not Facebook’s role to arbitrate on the free speech of politicians on its platform.

Sandberg thought that she had little ability to change his mind on the matter, she confided in those close to her, the book’s authors wrote in the NYT.

The book’s authors also said that the “core of the partnership hasn’t formally changed” between the two execs, and that they still meet twice a week, per the NYT.

A Facebook spokeswoman dismissed the book’s portrayal of their souring relationship.

“The fault lines that the authors depict between Mark and Sheryl and the people who work with them do not exist,” said Dani Lever, the spokeswoman told Insider. “All of Mark’s direct reports work closely with Sheryl and hers with Mark. Sheryl’s role at the company has not changed.”

Lever added: “The excerpts are typical of attacks on women leaders-denying their power, dismissing their competence, and marginalizing their roles and relationships.”