Groups Call For Clear Signal that Facebook Abuses Will Not be Tolerated; “It’s Time for Zuckerberg to Be Held Accountable”
Citing unchecked hate speech, rampant privacy violations, discriminatory advertising and a host of other ills, shareholders and civil rights groups today launched a “Vote No” campaign urging Facebook investors to withhold their votes of support from Mark Zuckerberg as a member of the company’s board. The new push is taking place ahead of the Facebook annual meeting on May 30 and follows months of revelations of abuses and no persuasive evidence that existing corporate leadership can turn things around for shareholders.
As CEO, Board Chair, and the company’s most powerful shareholder — controlling nearly 58% of voting shares — Mark Zuckerberg is effectively his own boss. The “Vote No” campaign expresses a rising tide of disapproval with Facebook’s unaccountable governance structure that has resulted in tremendous harm to business and society. By withholding their votes for Mark Zuckerberg, investors would be expressing the need for stronger oversight and transparency, as they have often been kept in the dark as controversy after controversy emerges.
Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner, Arjuna Capital: “Fixing Facebook requires radical change. A poor governance structure sits at the center of Facebook’s problems, and Zuckerberg cannot assuage investor concerns through a contrived PR narrative or the promise of artificial intelligence. Yet, Zuckerberg holds the keys to the castle as Chairman and CEO, controls the shares, and ignores the concerns of the company’s shareholders. Ideally, Mr. Zuckerberg would remove himself as board chair and bring more diverse views to bare. However, it’s clear that Facebook investors must now do that for him.”
Brandi Collins-Dexter, Senior Campaign Director for Media, Culture & Economic Justice, Color of Change: “Facebook's governance structure ensures that it's impossible to pass reforms -- and that’s by design. The company lacks any meaningful system of checks and balances. The long term structural changes to Facebook that Black people need cannot be subject to the whim of a single person. Real accountability to users and shareholders demands a public reckoning with Facebook’s corporate governance structure.”
Steven Renderos, Senior Campaign Manager, Center for Media Justice: "The days of Facebook moving fast and breaking things has got to come to an end. Under Mark Zuckerberg's leadership, Facebook has eroded the trust of its users by repeatedly placing their data in harms way. People of color have had their voices suppressed while white supremacists have been allowed to thrive. Facebook's missteps are not only bad for democracy, they're also bad for business. It's time for its shareholders to exert their power and hold the company accountable, beginning at the very top with Zuckerberg."
Michael Connor, Executive Director, Open MIC: “On Zuckerberg’s watch, Facebook has faced significant legal, regulatory, and reputational risk — allowing mass violations of user privacy, enabling discriminatory advertising, and accelerating the spread of white supremacist ideology, hate speech and misinformation on the platform. It’s time for him to be held accountable.”
The effort to push Mr. Zuckerberg out of his role on the board is a culmination of pressure mounting on many fronts: federal regulators reportedly contemplating a fine to Facebook of up to $5 billion for privacy violations; lawmakers encouraging material penalties for Zuckerberg himself; journalists penning headlines like, “15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook”; and civil rights groups and labor advocates successfully settling lawsuits regarding Facebook’s role in facilitating discrimination in advertising for jobs, housing and credit on the platform.
Shareholders’ objections to Mr. Zuckerberg’s unchallenged power are not new. Last year, over 35% of outside investors withheld their vote of support for him as a member of the company’s board. Between now and May 30th, Facebook investors who have long-term shareholder value in mind are encouraged to vote “no” on Mark Zuckerberg.
At the annual meeting this month, investors also have the opportunity to vote in support of multiple shareholder proposals that seek to establish independent oversight, stronger content governance, and long-term accountability at Facebook. One proposal calls for an Independent Board Chair, a second proposal asks Facebook to evaluate their policies governing content, and a third proposal requests the board bring on independent advisors to consider “strategic alternatives” to the company’s current business model, to maximize shareholder value.
Michael Connor, Executive Director, (646) 470-7748