Facebook shareholders call for Zuckerberg to step down as chair

Facebook shareholders call for Zuckerberg to step down as chair

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg in Paris, France, in May 2018.

@ Copyright :

REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

Pressure is mounting on Mark Zuckerberg to step down as Facebook chairman after several major shareholders called for more accountability following a string of controversies.

The shareholders, which include the treasurers — lead investment officers — of several US states as well as the privately-owned firm Trillium Asset Management demanded on Wednesday that the roles of CEO and chairman be split. Zuckerberg, who co-founded the social media behemoth, currently holds both positions.

« Facebook’s governance structure continues to put its investors at risk, » Michael Frerichs, Illinois State Treasurer, said in the filing.

« 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, » he added.

Facebook’s « mishandling » of a number of controversies is behind the filings, the shareholders said.

These controversies include the sharing of personal data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica; the platform’s role in US election meddling; and propagating violence in Myanmar, India and South Sudan. It also comes just a week after Facebook revealed that cyber attackers had stolen data from nearly 30 million users.

« Facebook plays an outsized role in our society and our economy. They have a social and financial responsibility to be transparent, » New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said.

« That’s why we’re demanding independence and accountability in the company’s boardroom, » he added.

The proposal is to be put to a vote at Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2019 but is unlikely to be approved.

Zuckerberg and a small group of allies control nearly 70% of the company’s voting rights, a situation another shareholder said is « akin to a dictatorship » earlier this year.

According to Wednesday’s filing, a similar proposal last year was backed by 51% of shareholders « when excluding the shares of the 13 executives and board members. »