Press Release

AFT Joins National Effort to Demand Corporate Governance Reforms at Meta

For Release: 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Contact:

Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603
acrook@aft.org

WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers today announced it was joining a national effort to mobilize and rally support for corporate governance reforms at Meta in advance of the company's annual general meeting next week.

The #MakeMarkListen campaign is organizing a collection of activists and advocacy organizations to demand oversight and accountability at Meta on behalf of children, parents and shareholders who have been exposed to significant risk and harms owing to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's record of mismanagement.

On May 4, as part of the campaign, the AFT urged its pension trustees, who oversee the retirement security of the union’s 1.7 million members, to endorse Proposal 14, which would mandate a performance review of Meta’s audit and risk committee that oversees company risks to public safety and the public interest.

AFT members participate in pension funds that together hold 30 million shares of Meta, valued around $6 billion.

The AFT also supports a second resolution, Proposal 9, filed by Arjuna Capital, SHARE, Storebrand and SumOfUs, that 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.

“We’re raising a giant red flag on the impact of Meta on kids’ lives and how its platforms exacerbate the anxiety that comes with navigating our complicated world at a young age,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Teachers and parents are working together to help kids recover and thrive, but Facebook and other social media giants are making it so much harder.”

“We’re asking Mark Zuckerberg to consider the risk, not only to shareholders but also to our kids and members. Facebook has played an important role in connecting us, but it’s also harmed children with the decisions it’s made to exploit its youngest users in the name of profit.”

In recent months a steady flow of controversies has taken its toll on Meta. Between whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 11 complaints to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a fall in future earnings projections, and a single-day valuation loss of more than $230 billion, it has become clear that Zuckerberg’s toxic behavior has led to mismanagement, misconduct and dysfunction.

The company’s own internal studies found that 32 percent of girls who suffer from poor self-image feel worse after spending time on the company’s Instagram platform, and yet, to date, Meta has refused to take sufficient action to mitigate the threat that management choices pose to children and teenagers.

The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from its shareholders, from the U.S. 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 messages.

The toxic world of social media has been cited as an accelerant in the online radicalization of the Buffalo shooter.

“We cannot let Meta continue down this reckless path,” continued Weingarten. “We are demanding immediate reforms that will ensure transparency, accountability and oversight—and we are calling on others to join us in our fight.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.