At a tense annual meeting, Facebook shareholders added their voices to the outcry that's been directed at the social media giant over its recent user privacy scandal and what some suggested has been CEO Mark Zuckerberg's outsized control over the company.
"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 shareholder Christine Jantz.
Jantz was among the attendees who were incensed by the company's voting structure, which grants Zuckerberg's Facebook shares 10 times the voting power that investors have.
"Will corporate dictatorships support a strong, democratic government in these United States of America, or will they continue to seek short-term power and profits for the few at the expense of conditions that favor the long-term broader interests of all their shareholders and users?" —James McRitchie, Facebook shareholderThe structure is an "egregious example of when a board is formed by a CEO to meet his needs," said Jantz, adding that the lack of democratic decision-making is partially to blame for allowing recent scandals like the Cambridge Analytica controversy to happen.
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The data of at least 87 million Facebook users ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm which was connected to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. The information was reportedly used to create profiles of American voters in order to target them with personalized political ads.
The security breach and ensuing questions about Facebook's effects on election integrity led to Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill, during which senators argued that Facebook could not be trusted with users' data.
Investor James McRitchie also spoke out on Thursday against the company's practices, accusing Zuckerberg of running Facebook as a "corporate dictatorship" that wields "tremendous influence over our nation."
"Will corporate dictatorships support a strong, democratic government in these United States of America, or will they continue to seek short-term power and profits for the few at the expense of conditions that favor the long-term broader interests of all their shareholders and users?" Ritchie asked.