After a year of stunning and damning revelations, Meta, formerly Facebook, is facing calls from investors to allow an independent assessment of the company’s audit and risk oversight committee.
Investors and a public interest nonprofit have sent a letter to Meta’s corporate secretary requesting that its proposal be included in the company’s annual proxy to be voted on by shareholders.
“Shareholders request the board commission an independent assessment of the Audit and Risk Oversight Committee’s capacities and performance in overseeing company risks to public safety and the public interest and in supporting strategic risk oversight on these issues by the full board,” says the letter, which was obtained by Axios.
Two investors, Harrington Investments and the Park Foundation, have joined with the Campaign for Accountability to force Meta’s hand. Harrington Investments calls itself a shareholder activist and socially responsible investor, while the Park Foundation is a grant-making foundation that funds initiatives in democracy and civil society, media, and the environment.
This isn’t the first time Meta/Facebook has faced demands for greater oversight of risk on the platforms. In 2018, another resolution asked shareholders if Facebook should create a committee that focuses on risks posed by the platform, including Russian meddling in the 2016 election, incitements to violence, and more.
That resolution failed, as many do, because CEO Mark Zuckerberg controls about 58 percent of the voting shares. Enough independent shareholders supported it, though, that the company added risk oversight to the duties of the board of directors’ audit committee.
In addition to this year’s request for an independent assessment of the audit and risk committee, Meta is facing other resolutions that are calling for greater board oversight to reduce harmful content on its platforms as well as a risk assessment of its new metaverse initiative. The shareholders calling for these changes, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the Illinois State Treasurer, filed other proposals last year that were defeated, one of which called for an independent board chair.
The proposed resolutions come after a year of controversy surrounding the various platforms run by Meta. In January, Facebook played a key role in helping organizers shape the violent insurrection at the US Capitol. Shareholders sued it for overpaying an FTC fine, which they allege was done to protect Zuckerberg from additional government scrutiny. Over the summer, President Joe Biden singled out the company for not taking a sufficiently aggressive stance against vaccine disinformation. Then, whistleblower Frances Haugen shared thousands of documents with The Wall Street Journal and Congress, which revealed Instagram harming teens’ mental health, using special moderation rules for VIPs, and inciting racial violence and genocide.