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SumOfUs Advocacy Group Calls for Mark Zuckerberg to Step Down as Facebook Chair

Should Facebook's chairman be an independent entity?

by Ben Adams

Facebook's constant presence has permeated nearly every aspect of daily life for most Americans, and created a number of new controversies. An activist group known as SumOfUs believe that Facebook cannot be governed by a single man without the balance of power. The group issued a proposal to oust Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg from his position as chairman of the board, and the consumer watchdog group includes Facebook shareholders. The SumOfUs claims that only an independent chairman of the company could act without repercussions from shareholders.

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been Facebook’s board Chair since 2012,” The proposal reads. “We believe the combination of these two roles in a single person weakens a corporation’s governance, which can harm shareholder value. An independent board chair is a necessary first step to put Facebook’s board on the path to effective representation of the interests of all shareholders.”

The group cited Facebook's move to reorganize company stock last year. Under the change, all Facebook stockholders, including Zuckerberg, would receive two shares of “Class C” stock for every existing share, which effectively splits up stock into smaller shares. This process then  allows Zuckerberg to easily fulfill his vow to give away 99 percent of Facebook shares to charity. The group believes this and other decisions favor Zuckerberg specifically.

Zuckerberg also formed a decision-making committee that was criticized as creating a conflict of interest. SumOfUs has issued previous petitions, with around 1,500 signatures from shareholders. The group contacted about 1,300 of those and received support from only four investors so far. The outcome stemming from the controversial shareholder decision is in its proxy filing in preparation for the company's annual shareholder meeting later this year.

Currently, five of the company's eight board members are independent from Facebook. But that isn’t the only thing the social media giant has on their plate. Facebook is still dealing with  controversies like the site’s fake news problem, shrinking ad views, and criticism surrounding inconsistencies in Facebook's community standards guidelines. Many groups feel the platform hasn't done enough to address censorship and hate speech inconsistencies as well. The Institutional Shareholder Services(ISS) gave Facebook a corporate governance score of 10 - the highest level of risk possible.


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Benjamin Adams is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a slew of publications including CULTURE, Cannabis Now Magazine and The 420 Book and Vice. Follow Ben on Twitter @BenBot11 and Facebook @byBenBot.



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