S&P GLOBAL: Investors point to risk in content management policies at Facebook

By Anna Akins, June 18, 2020

As debate continues to rage about content management at Facebook Inc., some shareholders are sounding the alarm about the risks associated with its current strategies.

At Facebook’s recent shareholder meeting, several defeated proposals would have addressed issues related to governance and content management, including one that urged the company to add a human rights or civil rights expert to its board to help highlight how to reduce the spread of violent and racist content on the platform. Facebook’s role in deciding how to manage inflammatory or false information about recent protests following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of local police is the latest in a long line of controversies about the company’s content management.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment about the steps it has taken to combat the spread of misinformation regarding Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests.

Natasha Lamb, managing partner at investment management firm Arjuna Capital LLC, which backed the defeated proposal to add a human rights or civil rights expert to Facebook’s board, said the company’s dual-share voting structure makes it difficult to pass shareholder proposals that are not approved by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, chairman and CEO. Changing that structure has long been a target of activist shareholders.

“Despite the best efforts of investors who have been ringing the alarm bells on content governance and hate speech for the last four years, Facebook and other social media platforms continue to propagate content that threatens civil and human rights,” Lamb said in an emailed statement.

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