The Library Freedom Project (LFP), an advocacy organization of library workers committed to defending the digital privacy rights of the public, is joining a national effort to mobilize and rally support for corporate governance reforms at Meta Platforms, Inc. in advance of Meta’s annual general meeting next week. The #MakeMarkListen campaign is a broad advocacy effort demanding oversight and accountability at Meta on behalf of its shareholders and for the general public, who are victims of countless harms owing to Mark Zuckerberg’s record of mismanagement.
Library Freedom Project is endorsing two resolutions for consideration at Meta’s annual general meeting and we strongly support shareholders to vote in support of each. The first resolution (Proposal # 14), offered by Harrington Investments, the Park Foundation, and SomOfUs, 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 by Arjuna Capital, SHARE, Storebrand and SumOfUs, 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.
Mark Zuckerberg has demonstrated that he is either unwilling or unable to run his company in a way that protects the best interests of Meta’s users or shareholders. Between whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 11 complaints to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, a fall in future earnings projections, and a single-day valuation loss of more than $ 230 billion, it is clear that Zuckerberg’s greed and toxic behavior has led to mismanagement, misconduct, and global dysfunction. While this campaign focuses on Mark Zuckerberg, the blame does not rest with Zuckerberg alone; Meta’s senior leadership team is complicit in his actions and inactions by him as well. LFP also demands accountability from Zuckerberg’s inner circle at Meta: Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Sandberg, President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, Chief Financial Officer David Wehner, and Chief Product Officer Chris Cox.
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 US 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 US government to be anti-democratic and socially irresponsible.
Library Freedom Project, as an organization of information professionals who serve the public good, is incensed by how widespread COVID-19 disinformation on Zuckerberg’s platforms has caused immeasurable harm through record-breaking infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Fueled by Meta, which operates as a massive disinformation platform, the entire global community continues to experience the ramifications of this ongoing public health crisis. The long-term impact of this information crisis, and the ecosystem Meta has intentionally created for it to thrive, is a burden that Meta stakeholders and the broader public will collectively shoulder for generations to come. As the negative health impacts of long Covid become clearer, the stress on our fragile health, financial and social systems will continue to take its toll on human lives. To this day, weary health professionals continue to sacrifice their health and time; their ability to treat people and protect public health is made even more challenging while debunking lies and misinformation from patients fueled directly by Facebook.
At an even more terrifying level, Meta, with Mark at the helm, has also aided the erosion of democratic norms, helping hate groups organize genocide and conflict in India, Myanmar, and Eritrea, and facilitating domestic terrorism in the US, including spurring an insurrection on January 6 at the US Capitol building. Mark and his associates are fully aware of the egregious impact of Meta’s various platforms and its business model. Zuckerberg has intentionally failed to be transparent or assume responsibility for the damages Meta is causing on people across the globe. Zuckerberg has given himself a tyrannical amount of power. By subsuming infrastructure that ought to be publicly held and staving off scrutiny from the public, researchers, and journalists, corporate tech companies like Meta have amassed as much power as nation states in 2022. The amount of damage Meta and similar “Big Tech” enterprises wield without government oversight or external governance should be understood as the coup overthrowing democracy that it is.
Shareholders, policy makers, and the public must also consider the fact that Meta has profited from the US government neglecting its own public infrastructure and benefited directly from a lack of government regulation, all the while incorporating civic functions that belong to the public sphere. Meta’s impact on media, journalism, and information itself has been profound. Meta and similar “Big Tech” entities have positioned themselves as the public commons, a societal function that has long been recognized as belonging to the domain of institutions like public libraries whose ethics are rooted in democratic principles of equitable access, privacy and transparency. Meta and various corporate “Big Tech” entities have assumed the role of de-facto public information providers for which they are neither trained nor prepared, and operate well-beyond the bounds of democratic institutions that are inherently designed to perform this societal function expertly.
Countless tech pundits have questioned the need for libraries in the age of companies like Amazon, Google, and Meta. As defenders of privacy and public purveyors of trustworthy information, library workers have always been diametrically opposed to Facebook and Meta in terms of their ethics and objectives. Unlike Meta, public libraries do not have a demonstrably deleterious effect on society and democratic systems. Instead, libraries strengthen democracy, build community and provide social support, and point people to credible resources. The resolutions in Proposal # 14 and Proposal # 9 are a starting point for Meta to begin its journey towards operating in alignment with democratic principles. This critical step will set the groundwork for Meta’s various stakeholders to be fully informed of Meta’s operations and whether or not it is an entity that its stakeholders wish to invest in.
It is for these reasons 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 di lui and Meta’s behavior di lui, due to the threat it poses to people and global stability, the company and its business model must cease to exist.
Library Freedom Project