The global social media platform, Meta Platforms Inc, formerly Facebook, is reportedly facing renewed scandal after shareholders called on it to tackle hate speech and harmful content. The Wall Street Journal reported this Monday evening that many people are furious with how Meta handles these issues both in their communities as well as internationally, where it’s used by terrorist orators who promote violence against others based upon race/ethnicity etc. But it also has an unfortunate impact beyond those because so much of our lives nowadays happen online, including jobs searches among other things!
A group of high-profile investors, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund and Illinois State Treasurer, filed resolutions urging Meta to step up efforts in reducing harmful content on their platform. They also called for a risk assessment of the company’s ambitions. The report cited the Investor Alliance for Human Rights.
It criticized Meta for allowing specific shareholders such as Mark Zuckerberg, Company Chairman and Chief Executive, to have supervoting powers totaling 58 percent of all votes.
Michael Frerichs, an Illinois State Treasurer, is quoted by the report saying, “Facebook is willing to allow a certain level of hate speech, political misinformation, and divisive rhetoric so it can make more money. That is exactly why the board’s governance structure must change”
Meta’s criticism comes at a historic moment when the company had just rebranded and changed its name and operations. As Julie Goodridge, Chief Executive of NorthStar Asset Management Inc posited, the time was right for all shareholders to have equal voting rights.
Speaking further, she stated, “When the stock is going up, no one wants to complain about the governance issues at Meta Platforms, but the risks are always there. The recent revelations from the whistleblower Frances Haugen reaffirmed what we already knew—that no one can keep Zuckerberg accountable but himself. This structure is not good for the company or our society.”
In a statement released by Ryan Moore, Meta in his words, More said, “We understand the responsibility that comes with operating a global platform where we must address some of the most complex issues impacting society and the internet at large. We have every commercial and moral incentive to try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on Facebook.”
He added that in 2021, Meta had invested over $5 billion to boost safety and security efforts with a staff of 40,000 workers. Stating that his firm had created new and practical solutions to block and reduce roughly half of the hate speech on the social media platform last year.
The earliest form of public criticism the company faced was in May, after Frances Haugen, Former Facebook Data Engineer, leaked a trove of documents and accused the company of failing to protect young people from harmful content. Following the leaks, the WSJ noted over 50 investors from the Alliance explored possible solutions to address the revelations.
Haugen also urged Meta at the time to redirect its resources to boosting online safety rather than investing in the Metaverse. Zuckerberg later rebuffed the claims ahead of his Facebook Connect event, stating there had been a “coordinated effort” to harm Meta’s reputation and “paint a false picture of our company.”
In addition, the tech giant has pledged $50 million to build the Metaverse responsibly with several vital organizations such as Latin America’s Organization for the American States (OAS), Europe’s Women in Immersive Tech, and many others.