ActiBlizz Lawsuit Dismissed; Meta Exec Accused of Interfering in Kotick Stories

Activision Blizzard announces new additions to its board of directors. In other company news, reports the class action suit filed against Activision Blizzard last year by investors has been dismissed. At issue was how the sexual harassment scandal that has embroiled the company wasn't revealed to investors. The U.S. district judge ruled that there was "a lack of particularity" in proving allegations that the defendants knew about the problem: "To the extent plaintiffs allege that defendants must have known sexual harassment and discrimination were endemic by virtue of their respective positions at the company," the judge wrote. "The [first amended complaint] does not establish the requisite facts to support such a conclusion." An interesting take on how the public could have been informed of alleged problems at Activision Blizzard comes in a report on (may require registration or subscription). This states that Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg is facing scrutiny over accusations that on two occasions she intervened to prevent the Daily Mail from publishing stories damaging to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Sandberg and Kotick were reportedly in a romantic relationship at the time. Kotick denies saying that Sandberg used Facebook's considerable leverage to influence the coverage. The report also notes that sources at the Mail state they do not feel Sandberg was making any threats. The Verge has some quotes to rescue us from the WSJ's hard paywall:
The WSJ reports that, in 2016 and again in 2019, Sandberg contacted MailOnline, the online imprint of the U.K.’s Daily Mail tabloid, in an attempt to stop the outlet from reporting about a restraining order filed against Kotick by his ex-girlfriend. On both occasions, the story did not run. Now, Facebook is investigating the issue to see if Sandberg potentially violated company policy.

According to sources in the WSJ report, Kotick said that Sandberg threatened the Mail in 2016, stating that any article published about the restraining order could damage the publication’s relationship with Facebook. Kotick denied this, telling the Journal, “I never said anything like that.”

In 2019, when the Mail was again looking to publish a story about the incident, Sandberg emailed the chairman of the Mail’s parent company, who referred her to the publication’s then editor in chief, Martin Clarke, according to the WSJ story. The two exchanged emails and, once again, the story did not run. It is important to note that, according to the Journal, sources at the Mail who were in communication with Sandberg said they did not feel threatened.