Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg is facing an internal review by Facebook’s parent company over reports she pressured UK tabloid Daily Mail to ditch articles about her former partner, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday citing unnamed sources.
According to the report, Sandberg contacted the Daily Mail on two separate occasions, in 2016 and 2019, to prevent stories from being printed about Kotick. Sandberg reportedly worked alongside Kotick, employees from Facebook and Activision, and outside advisers to pressure the UK publication. The parties reportedly were concerned that publication of the stories could damage Sandberg’s reputation, according to the Journal.
“Sheryl Sandberg never threatened the MailOnline’s business relationship with Facebook in order to influence an editorial decision,” a Meta company spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement. “This story attempts to make connections that don’t exist.”
Meta didn’t address whether it’s reviewing Sandberg’s reported actions.
Activision Blizzard’s board of directors told CNET in an emailed statement that the board was “aware of the circumstances reported involving an incident in 2014.”
The statement said that “around the time of the incident in 2014, Mr. Kotick notified the senior independent director of the board, has subsequently updated the full board and has been fully transparent with the board.”
After an investigation, the Activision Blizzard board said it “satisfied itself that there was no merit to the allegations and notes that they concern a personal relationship that has nothing to do with the business of the company. The board continues to have full confidence in Mr. Kotick’s leadership and his ability to run the company.”
Kotick is currently facing allegations that for years he knew of, a situation that’s led to . Activision Blizzard has been sued over sexual misconduct, discrimination and harassment as well as over the allegedly partly caused by sexual harassment.
The Daily Mail didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.