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SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg’s tight grip on Facebook is under growing scrutiny as investors call for the giant social network to name an independent chairman.
Zuckerberg, who faced two days of questioning from Congress last week over the improper handling of 87 million users’ personal information, is both CEO and chairman of Facebook and controls 60% of the voting power.
“In essence Mr. Zuckerberg is not accountable to anyone. Not the board, nor the shareholders,” Michael W. Frerichs, the state treasurer of Illinois, who oversees investments including college savings for citizens of the state, told the Financial Times. “Right now, Mr. Zuckerberg is his own boss and it’s clearly not working.”
Frerichs is supporting a proposal from New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees his city’s pension funds which have a $1 billion stake in Facebook. Stringer has called on the Silicon Valley company to name an independent chairman and three new independent directors with “specific expertise in data and ethics.”
“They have not comported themselves in a way that I think makes people feel good about Facebook and secure about their own data,” Stringer said on CNBC. “And that’s going to hurt the brand.”
Ken Bertsch, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, told the Financial Times that confidence in Zuckerberg’s leadership would increase if the company had a more “normal structure of accountability.”
Think you’re safe from Facebook’s privacy flaws if you are not a user? Think again.
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When asked by the Financial Times if Facebook’s board had discussed having him step down, Zuckerberg replied: “Not that I am aware of.”
In an interview with Vox, Zuckerberg said the unusual amount of control he has over Facebook benefits its 2.2 billion users.
“One of the things that I feel really lucky we have is this company structure where, at the end of the day, it’s a controlled company. We are not at the whims of short-term shareholders,” he said. “We can really design these products and decisions with what is going to be in the best interest of the community over time.”
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