Updated May 31, 2018 - Technology

Facebook shareholder presses to replace Zuckerberg as board chair

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

Facebook shareholders attending the company’s annual meeting Thursday will be the targets of a campaign urging them to replace CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who also chairs the company's board, with an independent chair.

Why it matters: It’s the first move in a progressive coalition’s efforts to target Facebook with a political-style campaign focused on calls for regulators to break up the social media empire.

The details:

  • The “Freedom from Facebook” coalition, a collection of progressive groups like Open Markets Institute and Demand Progress, plans to fly a plane above the company’s Menlo Park headquarters during the annual meeting — dragging a banner that reads “You Broke Democracy.”
  • One member of the coalition, SumOfUs, is an institutional shareholder of Facebook urging other shareholders to “withhold” on Zuckerberg’s appointment to the board in favor of an independent chair. (SumOfUs filed an exempt solicitation letter with the SEC to this effect.)
  • The group called for the appointment of a risk oversight committee, and a report on how the company is managing content governance — including election interference, fake news and hate speech.
  • There will also be a digital ad campaign targeting the shareholder meeting and Facebook’s office locations around the country. (View the “Don’t Get Zucked” ad here.)

Reality check: The shareholder proposal doesn’t stand a chance of getting approved (Zuckerberg himself holds majority voting control of the company) and the current FTC isn’t interested in breaking up Facebook. Still, this is the start of what could be a sustained campaign and drum-beat behind the coalition’s calls for more regulatory action and new accountability measures.

Go deeper: David McCabe reported the details of the coalition's launch earlier this month.

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