Pa. Treasurer Joe Torsella renews calls for Mark Zuckerberg’s ouster as Facebook board chair | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pa. Treasurer Joe Torsella renews calls for Mark Zuckerberg’s ouster as Facebook board chair

It’s no secret that Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella (D-Philadelphia) isn’t a big fan of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Just take a look at the PA Treasury Twitter account to see some tweets gentle mocking the CEO.)

In June, Torsella told Pittsburgh City Paper that Zuckerberg should step down as board chair of the social-media giant. Currently, Zuckerberg serves as CEO of the company, and sits as chair on the company’s board, where he and his allies control the majority of shares. That means Zuckerberg is both in charge of running the company, and in charge of the body that is supposed to hold the company accountable.

The Pennsylvania Treasury invests in many different companies as a way to grow its financial portfolio to maintain its state funds and pay its bills. In total, Torsella manage the commonwealth’s $33.6 billion investment portfolio. Since Pennsylvania has invested more than $5 million in Facebook, it has votes and a say on Facebook’s board. Torsella is using that say, along with five other state treasurers, to pressure Zuckerberg. He told CP it is especially important for Pennsylvanians since other countries targeted American voters on Facebook in order to attempt to sway their votes during the 2016 election.


“We don’t do this indiscriminately,” said Torsella in June. “We do it where we think there is a Pennsylvania-specific issue, and where we can have an impact.”

Since then, Torsella has seen Zuckerberg’s ouster at the world's biggest social media company as even more necessary, and has renewed his calls from last summer.
On Tuesday, Torsella and five other state treasures re-filed their proposal to separate the positions of Board Chair and CEO at Facebook. In May, 68 percent of public Facebook shareholders (not including insiders like Zuckerberg) recently voted to remove Zuckerberg as chair, up from 51 percent of the last shareholder vote.

"Facebook’s original motto was to ‘move fast and break things’ but what has really been broken is the trust independent shareholders have in Facebook’s governance model that clearly isn’t working, and effectively lets Mark Zuckerberg be his own boss,” said Torsella in a press release.”

Facebook has come under increased scrutiny over the last several months. Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have called for breaking up Facebook. The company has been criticized for allowing politicians to advertise on its platform, even if those ads contains lies. Recently, Facebook paid a $643,000 fine to the U.K. for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where Facebook allowed a privacy breach of up to 87 million people’s data without their consent. Data harvested by Cambridge Analytica was eventually used to assist the presidential campaigns of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Donald Trump.


Tosella said in a press release that shareholders deserve a board chair independent of company activity and this will lead to better oversight.

“It’s time for Facebook to change by accepting better governance and oversight, and to rebuild the public trust it has lost over the past few years.”

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