Could Mark Zuckerberg be removed as chairman of Facebook in the wake of the social network’s privacy scandals this year?
Four major U.S. public funds which hold shares in Facebook proposed removing CEO Mark Zuckerberg as chairman – and said they hoped to gain backing from larger asset managers.
They said they hoped to ‘force a conversation’ about having an independent chairman – a common practice at other companies.
In the past year, Facebook has faced repeated scandals over privacy – including a data leak affecting 30 million people, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and controversy over ‘fake news’.
State treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, co-filed the proposal.
They oversee money including pension funds and joined activist and original filer Trillium Asset Management.
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The move will be largely symbolic, as Zuckerberg controls a majority of the company – a similar shareholder proposal seeking an independent chair was defeated in 2017.
‘Facebook’s governance structure continues to put its investors at risk,’ Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said.
‘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.’
Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner said that the latest proposal was still worth filing as a way of drawing attention to Facebook’s problems and how to solve them.
‘This will allow us to force a conversation at the annual meeting, and from now until then in the court of public opinion,’ Magaziner said in a telephone interview.
The group is calling for the role of chairman to be made an independent position in a bid to re-establish trust.
Magaziner said, ‘Without an independent board chair, the board’s oversight of the company remains inadequate as evidenced by the recent mishandling of several controversies.’
A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.