Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg threw support behind his embattled second-in-command Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday and said he hoped he gets to work with her for decades more.
Zuckerberg, under fire from users, employees and shareholders after a series of scandals, was asked in an interview with CNN whether he could “definitively say” that Sandberg will stay in her current role as Facebook’s chief operating officer.
“Yeah, look, Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts to address a lot of the biggest issues that we have,” Zuckerberg told CNN in the interview broadcast Tuesday night.
“She’s been an important partner for me for 10 years, and I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done together, and I hope that we work together for decades more to come,” he said.
Zuckerberg has complete control of the social network as its chief executive, chairman and controlling shareholder, and Sandberg has given no indication that she plans to leave the company. She joined from Google in 2008.
For two years Facebook has been rocked by crises involving covert Russian propaganda, the mishandling of millions of users’ personal information and the hiring of a public relations firm that had an “in-house fake news shop.”
Sources have told NBC News that Zuckerberg and Sandberg believe Facebook’s negative image is a public relations problem that stems from a bungled press strategy and sensational media coverage, not a structural or philosophical shortcoming that requires a wholesale course correction.
Zuckerberg told CNN that he had no plans to give up his role as board chairman. "I'm not gonna be doing this forever, but I'm certainly — I'm not currently thinking that that makes sense," he said.
He also criticized the outlook of some journalists who report on the company.
“If we’re going to be real, there is this bigger picture as well which is that, we have a different world view than some of the folks who are covering us,” he said. He was interrupted before he could elaborate.
Among the criticisms of Facebook is that the company was too slow to name Russia as the source of divisive political messages including ads that appeared in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. The company considered naming Russia in April 2017 but waited until September of that year, the New York Times has reported.
Zuckerberg told CNN he had no regrets about that.
“It’s a really big deal to come out and say that a nation-state is behind something, and before our company puts a stamp on something saying that, I want to be really sure that that’s the case,” he said.