Major Facebook shareholders want Mark Zuckerberg out as chairman

A group of major shareholders jointly backed a proposal this week to replace Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as chairman of the board with an independent official amid a string of PR gaffes and scandals.

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The shareholders include the state treasurers of Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, as well as New York State Comptroller Scott Stringer and Trillium Asset Management, the firm that first proposed the move last June. They argue that Zuckerberg’s ouster “will be in the interest of shareholders, users, and our democracy.”

“Facebook plays an outsized role in our society and our economy. They have a social and financial responsibility to be transparent – that’s why we’re demanding independence and accountability in the company’s boardroom,” said Stringer. “We need Facebook’s insular boardroom to make a serious commitment to addressing real risks – reputational, regulatory, and the risk to our democracy – that impact the company, its shareowners, and ultimately the hard-earned pensions of thousands of New York City workers.”

The proposal to replace Zuckerberg is largely ornamental, given his control of roughly 60 percent of shareholder votes, according to the Wall Street Journal. Zuckerberg has come under unprecedented scrutiny this year after a series of data breaches and mounting concerns about foreign meddling on the social media platform.

Facebook disclosed earlier this month that hackers had managed to access personal data of roughly 30 million users by accessing log-in tokens. That acknowledgement came months after British data firm Cambridge Analytica admitted to improperly accessing the data of up to 87 million users.

The proposal names several instances that shareholders allege Zuckerberg mishandled, including the data breaches and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment on the proposal.

As New York’s comptroller, Stringer oversees a position in Facebook worth more than $745 million, the Journal reported. The state treasurers oversee stakes worth a combined $32 million.