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Facebook investors want to limit powers of Mark Zuckerberg

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Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is having an annus horribilis in 2018.

A series of issues that have hit his company, including election meddling accusations and data protection breaches, have seen the social network website at one of its lowest ebbs in recent years.

Now, a group of shareholders have filed a proposal that if successful will limit the control that the founder and CEO of Facebook wields in his position as chairman of the board of one of the most profitable companies in the world.

The shareholders who hold public funds in Facebook announced on October 17 that they are looking towards making the role of the Chair of the Board an independent position, effectively curtailing some of the control Mr. Zuckerberg has over the firm. “Doing so is best governance practice that will be in the interest of shareholders, employees, users, and our democracy,” the proposers intimated.

However, the shareholders face a huge impediment in that the Facebook CEO set up an organisational structure in the firm that gives him a majority of voting power, according to a CNN report. A similar proposition was also voted down last year.

Facebook controversies

Co-filed by Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the shareholders said their proposal is anchored on Facebook missing, or mishandling, a number of severe controversies in the recent past. The proposal is also supported by investment management firm Trillium Asset Management.


Of the controversies listed are the sharing of personal data of 87 million Facebook users with Cambridge Analytica, the proliferation of fake news, the alleged meddling of the US elections by Russia and the alleged propagating of violence in Myanmar, India, and South Sudan.

“These filings come on the heels of Facebook’s latest controversy, a data breach affecting 30 million accounts,” the shareholders said in a press statement.

One of the shareholders, Mr. Frerichs said, “Facebook’s governance structure continues to put its investors at risk. Now is the time for change. We need to see more accountability of Mark Zuckerberg to the Board of Directors to restore investor confidence and protect shareholder value.”

The proposal will be put to a vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2019.

“We are entering a new phase of Facebook’s growth,” said Jonas Kron, a senior vice president at Trillium. “As we confront the ways in which Facebook’s technology has outstripped our ability to understand how it affects society, it is time to put limits on Zuckerberg and make some structural changes.”

According to the shareholders filing the proposal, other prominent companies in the same or similar field as Facebook such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and Twitter have separate CEO and chairperson roles.


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Mike Njoroge
Mike Njorogehttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Mike Njoroge is the founder of Daystar Oracle and FootballTriangle. He is passionate about news, religion and sports. He can be reached at: [email protected]
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