May 24, 2022
#MakeMarkListen Campaign, Led by SumOfUs, Ahead of Meta's Annual General Meeting on May 25, Will Rally Support for Accountability, Shareholder Resolutions
Chicago, IL - SumOfUs, the global member led advocacy organization, today announced it was leading a national effort to mobilize and rally support for corporate governance reforms at Meta in advance of the company's annual general meeting next week. The #MakeMarkListen campaign is organizing a collection of activists and advocacy organizations to demand oversight and accountability at Meta on behalf of the general public and shareholders who have been victims of countless harms thanks to Mark Zuckerberg's record of mismanagement.
As part of the campaign, SumOfUs is also mobilizing support for two of the organization’s shareholder resolutions that will be considered at Meta’s annual general meeting and encouraging investors to vote in support of each. The first resolution (Proposal #14), offered in partnership with Harrington Investments and the Park Foundation, mandates a performance review of Meta’s audit and risk committee and its performance in overseeing company risks to public safety and the public interest. The second resolution (Proposal #9), filed along with Arjuna Capital, SHARE, and Storebrand, requests the Board of Directors commission a third party assessment of its metaverse project, specifically focused on the potential harms to users that may be caused by the use and abuse of the platform.
Groups that are supporting the #MakeMarkListen campaign include Public Citizen, Access Now, Accountable Tech, Alliance to Counter Crime Online, ADL, American Federation of Teachers, Arjuna Capital, CentiVox, Campaign for Accountability, Center for Countering Digital Hate, Change the Terms, ClimateVoice, Color Of Change, Committee to Protect Health Care, Data Driven Community COVID-19 Response, Defenders of Democracy Against Disinformation, DemCast USA, Doctors for America, Doctors In Politics, Eticas Foundation, Fairplay, Faith in Public Life, Florida Watch, Free Press, Friends of the Earth, GLAAD, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, In Phase Neuro, PLLC, Je Suis Là, Library Freedom Project, Media Matters for America, Muslim Advocates, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Education Association, National Hispanic Media Coalition, ParentsTogether, Ranking Digital Rights, Real Facebook Oversight Board, #ShePersisted, Tech Oversight Project, Tech Transparency Project, UltraViolet, and United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry.
In recent months a steady flow of controversies has taken its toll on Meta. Between whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 11 complaints to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a fall in future earnings projections, and a single-day valuation loss of more than $230 billion, it has become clear that Mark Zuckerberg’s toxic behavior has led to mismanagement, misconduct, and dysfunction. As a result of his actions, Meta has been able to produce detrimental products for years. The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from its shareholders, from the U.S. government, and from governments around the world, misleading these parties about its research on adolescent safety, artificial intelligence and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.
A full list of statements in support of the campaign can be found at makemarklisten.com.
Cheyenne Hunt-Majer, J.D., a fellow for Public Citizen: “Big Tech CEOs can’t have their cake and sell it too. Mark Zuckerberg relies on Meta’s dual class stock structure to avoid any consequences for his mismanagement and misconduct. Although he owns only about 13 percent of Meta, Zuckerberg has more voting power than all ordinary shareholders combined, which he then abuses to insulate himself from accountability. Congress must pass the Free-Market Accountability Through Investor Rights (FAIR) Act to require large companies with a history of misconduct to give all their investor shares equal voting rights. Big Tech companies are now among the top corporate lobbying spenders in the country, and they are likely to throw everything they have into stopping common sense measures that would make their platforms safer and healthier. It’s more important than ever for lawmakers and regulators to show their independence by bringing these companies to heel.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten: “We’re raising a giant red flag on the impact of Meta on kids’ lives and how its platforms exacerbate the anxiety that comes with navigating our complicated world at a young age. Teachers and parents are working together to help kids recover and thrive, but Facebook and other social media giants are making it so much harder. We’re asking Mark Zuckerberg to consider the risk, not only to shareholders but also to our kids and members. Facebook has played an important role in connecting us, but it’s also harmed children with the decisions it’s made to exploit its youngest users in the name of profit. We cannot let Meta continue down this reckless path,” continued Weingarten. We are demanding immediate reforms that will ensure transparency, accountability and oversight—and we are calling on others to join us in our fight.”
NEA President Becky Pringle: “As educators, we understand the incredible potential of social media. We have seen how social media platforms can open new doors of learning for our students, empower them with new ways to channel their creativity, enable them to make new friends around the corner and around the globe, and inspire them in ways previous generations couldn’t imagine.But educators and parents know that social media platforms are double-edged swords. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have reportedly enabled cyberbullying of our students, damaged their mental and emotional health, and addicted them through algorithms crafted to increase people’s fervent use. For too long, Facebook has actively ignored its platforms’ ill effects on young people, just like it turned a blind eye to the attacks on our democracy, while continuing to profit from illegal activity. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the other corporate leaders have shown themselves to be unwilling or unable to protect the best interests of the platforms’ users or the company’s shareholders. That is why the National Education Association, on behalf of our 3 million members and the 50 million students they serve, is joining the #MakeMarkListen campaign to demand corporate governance reforms, calling on Meta to reduce their risk, clean up their platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, and ensure the success of the company moving forward.”
Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson: “Under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has created a cycle of civil rights infringements and a lack of accountability that has impacted millions of users. Facebook’s offenses have led to the erosion of democracy around the world, jeopardized the safety of Black communities, and allowed hate speech to ferment exponentially on digital platforms. As the urgency for necessary protections against online white supremacist radicalization grows by the day, there has never been a more appropriate time to recognize the damages of Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership and the ongoing detriment of unchecked corporate power from social media companies that profit from lies, hate and disinformation.
Free Press Senior Counsel and Director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights Nora Benavidez: “For years, Free Press has been pressuring Zuckerberg to do better, but neither he nor his fellow C-Suite executives have done a thing to convince us that they’re serious about rooting out the hate and disinformation that have made Meta’s platforms so toxic. Zuckerberg’s unwillingness to prioritize people over profits has wreaked havoc on our democracy. And now this mismanagement is damaging Meta’s value, provoking a growing number of shareholders to demand long-overdue reforms. Genuine transparency, accountability and oversight should begin at the top. Investors must endorse these two resolutions to rein in Zuckerberg and repair Meta.”
GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis: "It is evident from the revelations of whistleblowers, from independent researchers and journalists, and from the company itself that Meta does have the ability to protect LGBTQ users and others from harmful anti-LGBTQ content but continues to prioritize profits over public safety. As we decry the attacks on our community from hate-driven figures we also hold social media platforms responsible for their part. Meta as a company, and Mark Zuckerberg personally, have an inherent financial conflict of interest which provides at least a partial explanation for the continuing refusal to effectively mitigate harmful material on Facebook and Instagram. They can and must do better."
Accountable Tech: “Mark Zuckerberg has long exploited the unilateral control of Meta he wields – fueled by his supermajority of voting shares and Congressional inaction – to operate with brazen disregard for the best interests of the billions of users relying on his products. It’s become clear now that shareholders, too, will pay the price for his negligence. Rocked by a slew of revelations ranging from his platforms’ impact on kids’ mental health and global democracy, to their unsustainable reliance on surveillance advertising, Meta has lost half its value since September. Even if shareholders can’t override his veto-proof grip on power, they can send a clear message – to the CEO and policymakers alike – that it’s past time for real oversight and accountability. They can #MakeMarkListen, or demand that Congress enact structural reforms.”
Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith: “Through extensive research, TTP and many other advocates involved in this campaign have provided ample evidence for any rational executive to conclude that Meta’s products are damaging and reckless. From the company’s repeated failure to address these harms, we can only conclude that Mark Zuckerberg is either unwilling or unable to get the job done and additional checks are needed to protect users and investors from his mismanagement. The harms caused by Meta’s products are nothing new to its users, but earlier this year shareholders woke up to the lasting damage caused by its top-level mismanagement. The benefits of these upcoming resolutions are twofold: by implementing real oversight of the company’s risk to public safety, the company can begin fostering a safer environment for its users. Then and only then, when users feel like the platform is a safe and productive place for themselves and their families, injured shareholders may start to experience some fiscal relief.”
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate: “Mark Zuckerberg’s negligent exercising of his unchecked power has eroded democracies, polarized discourse, and invaded our privacy as individuals. He has prioritized profit and engagement over people, allowing his platforms to become rife with conspiracies, misinformation, identity-based hate and abuse. We cannot allow callous billionaires to continue to profit without oversight, transparency, or accountability for their actions.”
Real Facebook Oversight Board: “As Meta shareholders meet to discuss the future of the company, their platforms continue to do active harm to civil rights, human rights, public health and democracy worldwide. In spite of knowing how to turn off the flow of hateful, inflammatory and misleading content on Facebook, they won't do it, because the profits are too great. We need to #MakeMarkListen. We must demand accountability until these u issues are addressed. It’s long past time for independent, external oversight and accountability measures to be implemented in a way that protects shareholder interests. On behalf of the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a global coalition of dozens of the world's leading experts on social media, disinformation and democracy, we urge shareholders to act.”
Bridget Todd, Communications Director, Ultraviolet: “Mark Zuckerberg needs Meta’s dual class stock structure to avoid oversight and consequences for his shady leadership. Big Tech CEOs with unchecked power have huge implications for all of us. It’s more important than ever for lawmakers and regulators to show their independence by checking Big tech companies. It’s why Congress must pass the Free-Market Accountability Through Investor Rights (FAIR) Act and require big tech companies like Meta to provide all investor shares with equal voting rights.”
Josh Golin, Executive Director, Fairplay: “For years, Meta executives have chosen to put profits far ahead of the safety and wellbeing of its youngest and most vulnerable users, even burying its own internal research that shows Instagram is harmful to teens while pursuing a project to create a kids' version of that same platform. While the company invests in expansion, it has completely failed to protect young people from being exposed to disturbing content, allowed Instagram to push pro-eating disorder content to children as young as 9, and knowingly extracted sensitive data from kids and teens while exposing them to serious risks. The era of Meta's self-regulation must come to an end: now more than ever, Mark Zuckerberg and other Meta leaders must be held to account in order to protect young people online.”
Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life: “As people of faith, we value truth and accountability. Disinformation on social media platforms owned by Meta leaves our communities vulnerable to nefarious actors, erodes democratic norms and enables political violence like the insurrection on January 6th. Disinformation is a threat to our democracy, and it flourishes on Meta platforms because of the policies that Mark Zuckerberg and the people he employs put in place. They can make better decisions. Mark, the time has come to repent for the harm Meta has caused our communities and our democracy and turn towards truth, accountability and oversight.”
Michael Khoo, Climate Disinformation Co-chair, Friends of the Earth: “Facebook is a superspreader of climate disinformation and it’s time to hold them accountable. Zuckerberg told Congress that he knows climate disinformation is a concern, but still 99% of this content can go unchecked. Shareholders must rein in Facebook and require it to stop amplifying the fringe voices that attempt to silence the majority.”
Kayla Gogarty, Associate Research Director, Media Matters for America: “Meta's lack of policy enforcements has led to real-world violence and other harms, with bad-faith actors using the platform to plan and defend the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, spread election fraud disinformation, put the public’s health at risk through COVID-19 misinformation, and target trans and nonbinary people, particularly youth. This pattern of failure is not only a risk to society at large, it’s also a risk to Meta’s shareholders. In advance of Meta’s Annual General Meeting, it is clear that Mark Zuckerberg is not willing to do what it takes to keep his platforms safe, repeatedly prioritizing profits over people and damaging our society in the meantime. It’s time to #MakeMarkListen and demand oversight and accountability at Meta.”
Nathalie Maréchal, Policy Director at Ranking Digital Rights: “Mark Zuckerberg has deliberately structured Meta (formerly Facebook) as a personal fiefdom where he holds all the power over the decisions that matter at the company. Between his controlling stake in Meta’s privileged Class B shares, a lack of truly independent voices on the Board of Directors, and the Facebook Oversight Board’s lack of jurisdiction over the source of Meta’s wealth and power—advertising—this is a company that has many of the trappings of corporate governance but none of the accountability.”
Heidi Beirich, Change the Terms co-chair and co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism: “Mark Zuckerberg is either unwilling or unable to run Meta in a way that protects the interests of both its users and shareholders. This isn’t the first time the Change the Terms coalition has asked Meta to clean up its act. We’ve seen over and over again how its executives, including Zuckerberg, continually fire up the company’s powerful PR machine to make empty claims and duck accountability. Zuckerberg’s reluctance to put platform users over profit is just bad business. Investors must stop Zuckerberg from continuing to mismanage Meta. By endorsing these two resolutions, investors can help ensure much-needed transparency, accountability and oversight at Meta.”
Dr. Rob Davidson, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Health Care and an emergency physician in west Michigan: “For years, doctors have witnessed the increasingly dangerous impact on our patients’ health of mis- and disinformation spread on Facebook, while the platform and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have done absolutely nothing. During the pandemic, doctors have been forced to grapple with the impacts of this unfettered disinformation spread each and every day, arguing with patients over the need to get vaccinated and wear a mask — not take ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine — while we put our health and that of our families on the line. Mr. Zuckerberg’s refusal to remediate this wrong is a threat to the health of individuals and entire communities, and Meta’s shareholders have an obligation to reform the company to protect health and save lives.”
Julie Greenberg, President, Defenders of Democracy Against Disinformation: “Shareholder concerns about Meta management are not theoretical. In recent months a steady flow of controversies has taken its toll on Meta. Between whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 11 complaints to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a fall in future earnings projections, and a single-day valuation loss of more than $230 billion, it has become clear that Mark Zuckerberg’s toxic behavior has led to mismanagement, misconduct, and dysfunction. Meta’s days of being able to escape from transparency about and accountability for detrimental products are over. Shareholders must take action now to protect their financial interests.”
Data Driven Community COVID-19 Response: “As a large Facebook group that anticipated in early March 2020 the need for prompt, multidisciplinary, data-driven, ethical, equitable and transparent discussion and action on this pandemic given concerns that it could be dangerously politicized, we call all stakeholders to action. Demand accountability for Mark Zuckerberg's reckless allowances for COVID disinformation to grow on his platform.”
Doctors In Politics: “Doctors in Politics believes that disinformation can deeply harm individuals, communities, and democracy. This was seen clearly through the lens of the COVID pandemic. Meta, with Mark at the helm, has jeopardized our lives, divided our communities, and eroded democratic norms, all of which have profound implications for our individual and collective health and well-being. We demand accountability.”
Gemma Galdon-Clavell, Founder and President of Eticas Foundation: “Meta has been oblivious to the evident negative social externalities of its products for too long. The use and abuse of people's personal data has given rise to an unaccountable data business where our lives and mental health are for sale and the democratic quality of our societies is at risk as the pursuit of business objectives leads to hate and polarisation. This has to stop. We know what is wrong with social media and AI products, and not addressing these issues and protecting citizens and users, is inexcusable. We call on Mark Zuckerberg to take responsibility for the legal social impacts of Meta's products and to be open to scrutiny and auditability. For years we at Eticas Foundation, with many others, have been addressing the issue of algorithmic accountability and offering solutions. We are convinced that algorithms must be accountable to ensure that ethical standards, social justice, equity, and transparency are included in the conceptualization and implementation of technological advancements. If Zuckerberg won’t right the ship, Meta needs to change direction.”
In Phase Neuro, PLLC: “As a patient-centered brain diagnostics company, In Phase Neuro, PLLC witnessed the brutal impact of those who were most devastated by COVID. The disinformation fueled by social media platforms like Facebook (Meta) amplified confusion and division over public health guidance on masking and vaccines with mortal consequences. We ask that shareholders at the May 25 annual board meeting prioritize people over profit.”
Muslim Advocates Senior Policy Counsel Sumayyah Waheed: “Mark Zuckerberg keeps failing to enforce the company’s own rules and refuses to take meaningful action to prevent anti-Muslim hate groups and dangerous, violent content from running rampant on his platforms. This shameful dereliction of duty had directly contributed to Muslims around the world experiencing threats, hate, conspiracy theories, mob violence and even genocide. We need to make Mark listen because actual lives are at stake.”
Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition: “The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) has long warned about rampant hate, extremism, and disinformation infesting Meta’s Facebook platform. Many of the platform's risks to marginalized communities, such as Latinx, are due to poor management and lack of leadership at the hands of Mark Zuckerberg. As the CEO and Chair of Facebook’s Board, who holds around 58% of the voting shares, Mark has the final say in every critical decision of Meta. Thus, NHMC is glad to join the #MakeMarkListen campaign to urge Facebook’s shareholders to mandate an independent audit of the risks on the platform and the current capacity and performance of Meta’s Audit and Risk Oversight Committee. NHMC demands Facebook provide equitable content moderation to Spanish and other non-English content to ensure all users have a safe experience while on the platform. We must know the extent of the problem, including previous errors and the neglect of risks to users on the platform. Therefore we urge Facebook’s shareholders to #MakeMarkListen to protect all its users from the dangers of hate, extremism, and disinformation in all languages.”
#ShePersisted: “Mark Zuckerberg is the single largest Shareholder at Facebook. He is solely in charge of one of the largest digital communication platforms in the world. With this level of excess power, must come responsibility. Yet, to the detriment of society and democratic discourse, Meta has failed to take responsibility, and thus as a company you have failed women spectacularly and repeatedly over the past decade within your zero-accountability internal operating system. The sad reality is that Facebook's status is a public safety risk, and threat multiplier to women, as well as minority communities, everywhere around the world, due to Mark and his choices. We demand that in light of the lack of accountability within the executive office of Facebook, Meta’s board enforce greater and more nuanced content and engagement policies that reinforce and protect women and girls' freedom of expression.”
Bill Weihl, Executive Director, ClimateVoice: “Climate disinformation is one of the root problems undermining our public will to tackle this crisis. It is a contributing factor slowing policy progress and allowing the climate crisis to continue to worsen. Despite its green rhetoric and its leadership work on decarbonizing its own operations, my former employer, Facebook, is still a major contributor to climate disinformation. According to a recent study, Facebook trails several other platforms in addressing disinformation, and fails to be transparent. We call on Meta to address this issue, which continues to pollute and distort the public discourse about climate, just when we have a historic opportunity to enact major federal climate legislation. That’s why ClimateVoice is joining dozens of groups in a Day of Action to #MakeMarkListen, calling out Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s poor management and governance ahead of the Facebook/Meta Annual General Meeting. It’s an accountability moment for Meta. They have the ability to do far better to curb the spread of mis- and dis-information about climate; it’s time for them to lean in with bold action.
Library Freedom Project: “As a direct result of Zuckerberg’s deliberate choices, for nearly two decades Meta has continuously produced detrimental systems and products on a mass scale without accountability or consequence. Zuckerberg’s beloved and famously cavalier mantra “move fast and break things” is a perfect summation of Meta’s irresponsibility to the public and its shareholders. Meta intentionally conceals vital information from the public, from its shareholders, from the U.S. government, and from governments around the world, misleading these parties about its research on adolescent safety, artificial intelligence, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme content. Meta’s harms are well-documented and widely understood by activists, civil rights organizations, and by members of the U.S. government to be anti-democratic and socially irresponsible…LFP strongly recommends Meta’s shareholders and policy makers to leverage their power, and vote in support of the resolutions outlined in Proposal #14 and Proposal #9 in order to #MakeMarkListen. Mark Zuckerberg and his associates can no longer be empowered to run Meta Platforms, Inc. so recklessly. It is long overdue for reforms at Meta that will ensure transparency, accountability, and oversight. If Mark Zuckerberg refuses to immediately reform his and Meta’s behavior, due to the threat it poses to people and global stability, the company and its business model must cease to exist.”