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Facebook investors mount pressure on Zuckerberg to resign over NYT report

NYT report suggested that Facebook hired a DC-based conservative firm which did PR work for the social networking giant and dug up dirt on the company's competitors and its critics

IANS  |  San Francisco 

Mark Zuckerberg
File photo of Mark Zuckerberg

investors have increased pressure on Chairman and CEO to step down after a investigation suggested that the hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that "dug up dirt on its competitors".

According to a report in The Guardian on Saturday, Jonas Kron, Senior at Trillium Asset Management which owns a substantial stake in Facebook, "called on Zuckerberg to step down as board chairman in the wake of the report".

"is behaving like it's a special snowflake. It's not. It is a company and need to have a separation of chair and CEO," Kron was quoted as saying.

The report suggested that hired Definers Public Affairs, a Washington, DC-based conservative firm which did PR work for the social networking giant "and dug up dirt on the company's competitors and its critics".

In a press call, Zuckerberg denied he had any prior knowledge about this firm.

"After reading the article, I got on the phone with our team and we are no longer working with this firm," he said.

Definers allegedly "encouraged the depiction of Facebook's critics as anti-Semites and had published articles criticising Facebook's competitors".

Another Facebook investor Natasha Lamb from Arjuna Capital said the combined role of chairman and chief executive means that "Facebook can avoid properly fixing problems inside the company", said the report.

According to TechCrunch, founded by a Republican campaign manager known for his dirt-digging prowess, Definers is far from a normal, politically neutral contractor.

In a statement, Facebook COO also denied any knowledge of the firm.

Facebook said that it used the consultant Definers Public Affairs to look into the funding of "Freedom from Facebook" to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, "but supported by a well-known critic of our company," presumably liberal financier

"To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue," the company added.

Facebook has also refuted allegation that it knew about Russian activity as early as the spring of 2016 but was slow to investigate it at every turn.

As the fallout of the report, Facebook stocks fell 3 per cent on Friday to $139.53, the lowest since April 2017.

First Published: Sat, November 17 2018. 10:44 IST