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Facebook shareholder meeting: lots of anger, little change

If there is anyone who knows how to beat around a bush, it is Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg. At his company’s annual shareholders meeting, held on Thursday, Zuckerberg sang the same song he sang at his press meetings and congressional testimonies, offering nothing new or substantial.

Investors not only grilled the Facebook officials over the data misuse scandal but also made several proposals including changes to the company’s voting structure, setting up a committee to analyze and prevent potential risks, more transparency regarding the gender pay gap and allowing proposals to be approved through a simple majority vote.

Note that at present, Facebook’s stock structure allows Zuckerberg and his close aides to maintain significant voting power in the company, much to the chagrin of investors. Changes do not happen unless Mark and party allow them. Naturally, all shareholder proposals put forward at the meeting were turned down. Despite a brief opposition from an investor, all board members including Zuckerberg were re-elected to the board.

Facebook said it is now doing all that it can to thwart any repeats of the Cambridge Analytica (CA) incident and to prevent people from misusing its site to promote hatred, propaganda, and misinformation. Facebook said it deleted millions of fake accounts and is now monitoring the content on its site. The social media company has made considerable investments in AI tools to not only track and refine its content, but also to improve its features so that users stay glued to the site.

The CA scandal and the resulting uproar did not dent Facebook’s usage as one would have thought

Facebook was also accused of muzzling conservative voices, but the company defended itself and said it was in favor of all opinions. Despite all the talk, it can be gathered that in terms of concrete change, not much has happened. The structure and control remain the same, and the explanations remain vague.

It is interesting to note that the CA scandal and the resulting uproar did not dent Facebook’s usage as one would have thought. The growth in the company’s daily and monthly active users extended to the most recent quarter too. Yep, people continue to be click-happy as ever.

On Thursday, the stock climbed more than 2% and closed at $191.78 per share, not too far from its all-time high point of $195.32 per share. This is proof enough that Facebook will prevail and despite their current frustration, investors still have faith in the company and its ability to survive the storm.

Facebook is not the only company with a stock structure that allows high voting power to a few. In the media industry, CBS (CBS) and Viacom (VIAB) are two examples of companies with heavy-duty stock structures. Although not much changed at the Facebook meeting, for now, the anger of investors cannot be ignored forever. At some point, the situation must improve or change.

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