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Facebook's shareholders get their say,twice

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Facebook's annual shareholder meeting was held today, and it made for a better spectacle than most su
 
May 31 · Issue #148 · View online
The Interface
Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting was held today, and it made for a better spectacle than most such gatherings. Facebook’s annual meeting is a bizarre, theatrical formality to begin with — Mark Zuckerberg controls a majority of the voting power at the company, enabling him to dismiss shareholder proposals with all the effort of (Marvel Cinematic Universe spoiler) Thanos snapping his fingers at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.
But shareholders are still allowed to ask questions at the meeting, and with Facebook still in taking-its-lumps mode, Zuckerberg and other executives entertained some commentary from the crowd. Here’s Ian Sherr in CNET:
“If privacy is a human right – as stated by Microsoft’s CEO – then we contend that Facebook’s poor stewardship of user data is tantamount to a human rights violation,” said Christine Jantz, chief investment officer at Facebook investor Northstar Asset Management, in a statement during the meeting. 
Shareholders also put forth some of those proposals I mentioned. Sherr again:
One proposal, for example, asked investors to consider changing the voting structure of Facebook’s stock so that one share equals one vote. Currently, Zuckerberg and a small group of insiders have a special class of stock that allows them to control 70 percent of voting power at Facebook, even though they own just 18 percent of shares in the company. The result of the vote could be that shareholders are able to second-guess Zuckerberg and his management team more often.  […]
Other proposals, which Facebook’s shareholders also voted against, included creating a risk oversight committee, commissioning a report on Facebook’s efforts to reduce the gender pay gap, and setting a simple majority vote on proposals so they can be approved more easily.
Anyway, Zuckerberg metaphorically snapped his fingers, and the proposals disappeared. It will likely continue this way for the foreseeable future. But Shira Ovide makes the case that the shareholders deserve our attention anyway:
Zuckerberg doesn’t need to be concerned about losing his grip. He’s sold heaps of Facebook stock in the last year to fund his family’s philanthropic efforts, but his share of voting power actually increased from 59.7 percent in 2017 to 59.9 percent as of March 31, including shares that Zuckerberg votes on behalf of another Facebook founder. 1
The full breakdown of Facebook’s shareholder election likely won’t be released for several days, but it’s already clear that stock owners of big tech companies won’t rubber-stamp everything management wants. There’s broad agreement now that the digital hangouts owned by technology superpowers need to be under a more-watchful eye. Likewise, their boardroom behavior needs the kind of scrutiny that empowered stock owners are supposed to provide. Those meaningless shareholder elections should and do matter.
Of course, shareholders vote on Facebook in another important way — by buying and selling its stock. And I couldn’t help but laughing one of those cynical reporter laughs today when I checked in how Facebook’s stock was doing at the end of the shareholder drubbing. At the nadir of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the stock sat at $144.56. It closed today at $191.80, just a few dollars away from its all-time high.

Democracy
Telegram CEO says Apple is blocking Telegram updates worldwide
Google Emerges as Early Winner From Europe’s New Data Privacy Law
Lawyers Chase Missing Cambridge Analytica Unit
Elsewhere
YouTube is the preferred platform of today’s teens
Apple’s “Digital Health” in iOS 12 will reportedly show how much time you’re spending on your iPhone
This Media Startup Is Beating the Competition With a Newsroom Run by Robots
With Venues, Oculus and Facebook Push Social VR Into New Territory
Memes Are Becoming Harder to Monetize
Launches
Google launches a Q&A app for neighborhood communities in India
Pinterest gives advertisers a way to show promoted videos that take up the screen
Takes
Papua New Guinea Wants to Ban Facebook. It Shouldn't
And finally ...
Everyone is responding to the General Data Protection Regulation in their own way. Calm, a popular app for meditating, has created a GDPR reading for you to … fall asleep to. A nice find from Hannah Kuchler.
Hannah Kuchler
Calm, the meditation app, has a GDPR reading for you to fall asleep to. This is for real. https://t.co/MnVeBO2VjY
10:27 AM - 30 May 2018
Good night!
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Shareholder proposals? casey@theverge.com
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