Facebook shareholders vote down proposals to limit Zuckerberg's power

Facebook shareholders vote down proposals to limit Zuckerberg's power
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Facebook shareholders on Thursday voted down a series of proposals that would have limited CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergBipartisan senators to introduce bill forcing online platforms to disclose value of user data Understanding what Facebook's Libra is — and what it isn't Buckyballs, Facebook and the dangers of virtue-signaling MORE's power, following a contentious meeting marked by pointed criticism of the company's top brass.

The proposals were largely expected to fail after Facebook's board of directors recommended shareholders vote against them. Zuckerberg, the company's CEO and chairman, controls 58 percent of Facebook's voting power, meaning proposals aimed at reducing his authority or ousting him from the board are unlikely to succeed.

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A total of eight shareholder proposals failed to pass on Thursday, including one that would have required Facebook to look into potentially breaking up the company.

Activists are awaiting the final vote tallies to see how much support the proposals garnered. The final results will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission later this week.

Shareholders at the meeting raised a litany of complaints about Facebook's management and conduct, many of which Zuckerberg and Chief Financial Officer Sheryl Sandberg declined to answer directly.

Zuckerberg reiterated his calls for more government regulation, sidestepping a question about his power over the company.

“I don’t think that people overall would want companies to have so much unilateral authority to make decisions over speech and elections and privacy,” Zuckerberg said. “I think the big question that we need to answer is: What is the right framework, whether it’s regulation or industry bodies, that will enable us to solve the specific issues we’re grappling with?”

Eli Kasargod-Staub, the executive director of Majority Action, a corporate accountability group, told The Hill that shareholders in the meeting were "incredulous" over statements from Facebook executives indicating they support the company's current structure.

"Shareholders in the room, I really believe, were pretty incredulous at the idea that the existing team and governance structure that got everybody into this mess ... is going to be able to get us out," Kasargod-Staub said.

Activists have rallied around proposals to curtail Zuckerberg's power amid the barrage of privacy and civil rights scandals that have plagued the company in recent years. Regulators and lawmakers around the world have been cracking down on Facebook, accusing the tech giant of enabling genocide in Myanmar, allowing hate speech to fester and spread unabated, invading users' privacy and doing too little to stave off disinformation campaigns from foreign actors.

Facebook has said they are investing resources to address those issues.

"Facebook is not doing enough to make sure their users are safe," Steven Renderos, the senior campaign director at MediaJustice, said in a statement. "The board of directors has the power to change this and we hope that starts today with changes that ensure a structure to deliver on promises to users and real accountability measures for Zuckerberg and the board to make progress on reducing the dangerous and hateful activity still plaguing their platform.”

Shareholders voted to reelect Zuckerberg to the board, alongside some of his closest allies.

Digital civil rights group Color of Change and Majority Action had been urging Facebook shareholders to withhold their support for nominating Zuckerberg to the head of the board.

Another failed proposal would have asked Facebook to compile a report on the company's gender pay gap.