Meta's Sheryl Sandberg reportedly pressured outlet to drop story on Activision CEO Bobby Kotick

Bobby Kotick Activision Blizzard
Bobby Kotick Activision Blizzard (Image credit: Activision Blizzard / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is currently under heavy scrutiny, with allegations including that Kotick allowed abuse and sexist workplace behavior to go on unpunished.
  • According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg, Kotick's former girlfriend, helped keep a story about Kotick from being published.
  • Activision Blizzard has faced a lawsuit since July 2021.

Embattled Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is under even more scrutiny, as is a Meta executive who reportedly aided him in getting a story dropped.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg pressured U.K. tabloid The Daily Mail to drop a story on Kotick twice, in 2016 when the pair were dating and in 2019 when they separated.

The report alleges that Sandberg and Kotick worked with a team of then-Facebook and Activision employees to figure out a strategy for keeping The Daily Mail from running a story that would reveal a temporary restraining order had been filed against Kotick by a former girlfriend. The report claims that the former girlfriend obtained the restraining order after Kotick harrassed her at her home.

Per The Wall Street Journal's sources, Meta is currently undergoing a review to determine if Sandberg violated company rules. Kotick reportedly told people involved with the matter that Sandberg could damage The Daily Mail's relationship with Facebook if an article was published. In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Kotick denied ever saying anything of the sort, claiming that the outlet didn't run the story because it wasn't factually accurate.

Sources familiar with Sandberg note that a direct threat would've been "out of character" but that even a phone call could've been perceived as threatening due to the role Facebook played in online web traffic for news outlets like The Daily Mail.

Activision Blizzard has faced a lawsuit since July 2021, alleging that the company had allowed systemic sexist workplace behavior and abuse to go unpunished. A recent report previously alleged that the California governor's office has interfered in the case against Activision Blizzard.

Activision Blizzard is also currently in the process of being acquired by Microsoft. The deal is worth almost $69 billion and is slated to finalize sometime in Microsoft's fiscal year ending June 30, 2023. The deal would see Activision Blizzard added to the Xbox first-party division alongside Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.