Report: Facebook COO threatened Daily Mail to drop negative Kotick story

Report: Facebook COO threatened Daily Mail to drop negative Kotick story

Social media giant exec Sheryl Sandberg reportedly put pressure on The Daily Mail to drop a story about her then-boyfriend, Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick (pictured).

That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which alleges that the Facebook COO used her influence to stop the publication from running negative stories about Kotick not once, but twice. These stories are related to an ex-girlfriend of the Activision Blizzard boss filing a restraining order against him.

In both 2016 and 2019, the Mail was set to publish stories about these but ultimately did not. This was in part due to the woman in question retracting her allegations against Kotick, telling Kotaku that she had exaggerated, but Sandberg also said that were the Mail to publish these stories, it would jeopardise the outlet's "business relationship" with Facebook.

In a statement to Insider, a spokesperson for Facebook - now Meta – said that this was false.

"Sheryl Sandberg never threatened the MailOnline's business relationship with Facebook in order to influence an editorial decision," they said.

"This story attempts to make connections that don't exist."

In addition, Activision Blizzard's board of directors has once again put its full confidence behind Kotick.

“The board, through its counsel Skadden Arps, has done a thorough examination of the facts and circumstances of the events, 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 company's directors said in a statement.

“The board continues to have full confidence in Mr. Kotick’s leadership and his ability to run the company.”

This comes in the wake of allegations of misconduct against Kotick during his time as Activision Blizzard CEO. These include reports he sexually harassed a flight attendant and sent death threats to his personal assistant.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.