Facebook exec, longtime friend of Kavanaugh, draws criticism for attending Senate hearing
Facebook’s vice-president of global public policy drew criticism from company employees after he was spotted attending the hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last week.
Joel Kaplan has been friends with Kavanaugh for decades and worked with him during the George W. Bush administration. After he was seen sitting behind the embattled judge during last week’s hearing, some Facebook employees have taken Kaplan’s attendance as an endorsement of the Supreme Court nominee.
Kavanaugh is facing at least one allegation of sexual assault by a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Ford claims that while they were both teenagers attending the same party in Maryland, a drunken Kavanaugh pushed Ford onto a bed and attempted to disrobe her. Ford also alleges that Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming for help.
According to several media outlets, Kaplan wrote to Facebook staff in a memo last week that he is aware that this is a “deeply painful” moment. According to the reports, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told staff at a regularly scheduled meeting last week that Kaplan didn’t break company rules. The issue is expected to come up again at a meeting Friday.
In a statement Friday, Facebook said its leadership “made mistakes handling the events of the last week, and we’re grateful for all the feedback from our employees.”
Facebook also told CNBC in a statement on Friday that “sexual assault is an issue society has turned a blind eye to for far too long — compounding every victim’s pain.”
The revelation comes at a difficult time for Facebook, between seemingly back-to-back data scandals and internal turmoil. The same week that Kavanaugh and Ford testified, Facebook revealed that over 50 million user accounts had been breached in a data hack. This comes just months after the company faced stiff criticism for mishandling user data on a variety of fronts.
Child advocacy groups have also filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, saying that Facebook’s kid-focused messaging app violates federal rules against collecting data on children under 13 without parental permission, while the co-founders of Instagram abruptly resigned less than two weeks ago amid supposed disagreements with Zuckerberg.
—With files from the Associated Press