New York Comptroller Calls For Votes Against Twitter, Meta Directors

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is calling for major investors in Meta and Twitter to vote against directors of the companies at their upcoming annual meetings over what he called their failure to remove harmful content.

The letter from DiNapoli, who oversees New York’s pension fund, says the companies failed to uphold their content standards with regard to material from a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York on 14 May, Reuters reported.

He reportedly said both companies failed to remove video clips and screenshots from the shooter’s livestream and his alleged racist manifesto.

Such loopholes help radicalise individuals and support calls for more social media regulation, he reportedly wrote.

Policy enforcement

Until the boards show they can show “an ability to successfully oversee the company’s content management policies, the Fund will continue voting against directors”, he said, calling on other investors to do the same.

Twitter responded that it is “removing videos and media related to the incident, as well as Tweets that contain third-party links to manifesto and videos of the attack”.

Meta said it quickly designated the shooting a “terrorist attack”, which triggered a process to remove the shooter’s account and other material.

“We have teams working around the clock across Meta to identify, remove, and block violating content related to the shooting,” the company said in a statement.

Both companies are to hold their annual shareholder meetings on Wednesday.

Regulatory pressure

Twitter is the subject of a takeover bid by Tesla chief exective Elon Musk, but the deal is currently suspended, which could restore significance to the meeting, where two directors are up for election.

Social media platforms are under increasing pressure from regulators and shareholders over their ability to manage the content shared across their services.

Major institutional investors in Meta, formerly Facebook, last December put forward eight proposals for the 2022 company meeting addressing concerns around the company’s governance structure, the potential for psychological harms of its proposed Metaverse Platform, the spread of hate speech and misinformation on the platform and other issues.

Activist investors

Large companies are also facing other pressures from activist investors, including over their executives’ massive pay packages.

Last year a record number of S&P 500 companies failed to attract 50 percent support from shareholders for their chief executive pay deals.

In March Apple investors voted to approve chief executive Tim Cook’s pay package, after advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) wrote to Apple shareholders that it had “significant concerns” over the “design and magnitude of the equity award”, adding that half of the award “lacks performance criteria”.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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