Monday February 18, 2019
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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
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.

Facebook
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.

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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 Suspends 3 Pages Linked to Russian Government

Maffick's videos are generally critical of US foreign policy and the mainstream American media, while largely avoiding criticism of the Russian government.

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Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Three video-centric pages run by a viral video company – Maffick Media – have been suspended from Facebook because they failed to properly disclose their ties with Russia, the media reported.

Ruptly, a subsidiary of the state-run RT (formerly Russia Today) which is funded by the Russian government, has a 51 per cent stake in Maffick Media.

“People connecting with Pages shouldn’t be misled about who’s behind them. Just as we’ve stepped up our enforcement of coordinated inauthentic behaviour and financially motivated spam over the past year, we’ll continue improving so people can get more information about the Pages they follow,” CNN quoted a Facebook spokesperson as saying on Friday.

Facebook
Facebook suspends 3 pages linked to Russian government. Pixabay

Facebook has suspended the pages intending to reach out to their admins, demanding them to disclose where the pages have been running from and their affiliation with their parent company in order to get back on the platform.

Designed to appeal to millennials, videos on these pages have collected tens of millions of views on Facebook but the pages do not disclose that they are backed by the Russian government, CNN reported.

Maffick’s videos are generally critical of US foreign policy and the mainstream American media, while largely avoiding criticism of the Russian government.

Facebook, Suspends
Facebook has suspended the pages intending to reach out to their admins, demanding them to disclose where the pages have been running from. VOA

“The move was an unusual one for Facebook since the company does not require users to provide information about parent companies, but it is rolling out ways to try to increase transparency about who runs popular Facebook pages and it has been taking aggressive steps to tackle covert government-backed information operations on its service,” CNN added.

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Unlike YouTube, Facebook does not have a policy of labelling state-sponsored media on the platform, but according to the report, it is considering transparency options that could help address the issue. (IANS)