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Facebook Investors Increase Pressure on CEO Mark Zuckerberg To Step Down

Facebook has also refuted allegation that it knew about Russian activity as early as the spring of 2016 but was slow to investigate it at every turn

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Facebook releases Messenger redesign on Android, iOS. Pixabay

Facebook investors have increased pressure on Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to step down after a New York Times investigation suggested that the social network hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that “dug up dirt on its competitors”.

According to a report in The Guardian on Saturday, Jonas Kron, Senior Vice President at Trillium Asset Management which owns a substantial stake in Facebook, “called on Mark Zuckerberg to step down as board chairman in the wake of the report”.

“Facebook is behaving like it’s a special snowflake. It’s not. It is a company and companies need to have a separation of chair and CEO,” Kron was quoted as saying.

The New York Times report suggested that Facebook hired Definers Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative firm which did PR work for the social networking giant “and dug up dirt on the company’s competitors and its critics”.

In a press call, Zuckerberg denied he had any prior knowledge about this firm.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

“After reading the article, I got on the phone with our team and we are no longer working with this firm,” he said.

Definers allegedly “encouraged the depiction of Facebook’s critics as anti-Semites and had published news articles criticising Facebook’s competitors”.

Another Facebook investor Natasha Lamb from Arjuna Capital said the combined role of chairman and chief executive means that “Facebook can avoid properly fixing problems inside the company”, said the report.

According to TechCrunch, founded by a Republican campaign manager known for his dirt-digging prowess, Definers is far from a normal, politically neutral contractor.

In a statement, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also denied any knowledge of the firm.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg. Flickr

Facebook said that it used the consultant Definers Public Affairs to look into the funding of “Freedom from Facebook” to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, “but supported by a well-known critic of our company,” presumably liberal financier George Soros.

“To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue,” the company added.

Also Read- Xiaomi Drops Down Smartphone Prices in India

Facebook has also refuted allegation that it knew about Russian activity as early as the spring of 2016 but was slow to investigate it at every turn.

As fallout of the report, Facebook stocks fell 3 per cent on Friday to $139.53, the lowest since April 2017. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook, T-Hub Pick 10 Indian Start-ups for Support Programme

The other start-ups that were shortlisted include Greenturn Idea Factory, Sensegrass, Marut Drones, Shortlist Professionals and Innerhouse

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FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

Social media giant Facebook and T-Hub, a Hyderabad-based global start-up catalyst, on Wednesday announced the 10 start-ups they have selected for the second edition of their “India Innovation Accelerator” programme.

Announced in May, the programme will support the growth of start-ups focused on finding solutions for social challenges using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in areas of good health and wellbeing, agriculture, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic opportunities, industry, innovation & infrastructure, climate change and peace and justice and strong institutions.

“At Facebook, we believe Artificial Intelligence will be key to finding disruptive solutions to address societal challenges like access, affordability, and skill shortage. We are excited to champion next generation of tech start-ups applying AI for social good and accelerate their development by giving them access to expertise,” Manish Chopra, Head and Director of Partnerships, Facebook India, said in a statement.

The 10 cohort start-ups include Mumbai-based ftcash which aims to empower micro-merchants and small businesses with the power of credit using digital payments.

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FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

While another start-up, StaTwig, is building Blockchain based solutions to ensure that every child is vaccinated with high quality vaccines, Signzy has built a digital trust infrastructure which enables completely secure digital on-boarding using the AI assisted on-boarding (RealKYC), Algorithmic Risk Intelligence (ARI), and Blockchain technology to store and verify consumer information.

Blue Sky Analytics, a geospatial data intelligence start-up, and Pensieve that aims to democratise legal data and make it accessible to the common man were also selected.

Also Read: Google Closes its Controversial Chinese Search Engine Project

The other start-ups that were shortlisted include Greenturn Idea Factory, Sensegrass, Marut Drones, Shortlist Professionals and Innerhour.

The India Innovation Accelerator will support the growth of these start-ups in many ways. A panel of mentors, industry experts, investors, will provide hands on operational support and mentoring with specialised training on product development, marketing, partnerships, management. (IANS)