Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg told to 'emulate George Washington not Vladimir Putin' at shareholder meeting

Investors blame Cambridge Analytica data scandal on skewed power dynamics

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's board of directors faced an onslaught of shareholder outrage as activist investors tried to force a change of governance at the annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.

A few minutes into the meeting, a shareholder was removed for repeated interruptions complaining about how she and her peers could not speak until after the voting.

Investors had called for a vote on six initiatives that would even out the power structure within the company, but as the voting system was already skewed, all of the issues were dropped.

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Officially, that is, as shareholders still had plenty to say against Facebook, reported The Guardian

"Mr Zuckerberg, take a page from history," said attendant James Ritchie, who seemingly critiqued Zuckerberg's leadership style. "Emulate George Washington, not Vladimir Putin."

Concerns from the shareholders were also raised over Facebook's inability and lacklustre commitment in tackling fake accounts and abusive posts, its part in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and the lack of diversity in its corporate ranks. 

"If privacy is a human right, as stated by Microsoft's CEO, then we contend that Facebook's poor stewardship of customer data is tantamount to a human rights violation," said Christine Jantz of Northstar Asset Management.

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Jantz wanted to change the voting structure, which gives Zuckerberg's shares ten times the voting power even though he doesn't own a majority of the company. She blamed the Cambridge Analytica scandal on this system, and another shareholder called it a "corporate dictatorship".

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For his part, Zuckerberg effectually repeated his statements from appearances in US Congress and European parliament, going over the same initiatives to stop the spread of propaganda and fake accounts on Facebook.

"The big theme we're focused on is making sure we take a broader view of our responsibility to everyone we serve," he said.

The only new comment came from COO Sheryl Sandberg, who revealed Facebook's adoption of a "diverse slate approach", which will require hiring managers to look at candidates from underrepresented groups to fill a position.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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