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Several Facebook investors back independent board chairman proposal

Several public funds with holdings in Facebook Inc. are calling for the removal of CEO Mark Zuckerberg as chairman of the company's board.

The New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and state treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania backed a shareholder proposal asking the Facebook board to make the role of board chair an independent position.

The proposal, which will be voted on at the company's annual stockholders meeting in May 2019, was originally filed by hedge fund Trillium Asset Management LLC in June. Trillium in its proposal cited Facebook's "mishandling" of several controversies, including its data scandal and Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg has been the chairman of the board since 2012. His dual-class shareholdings give him about 60% of Facebook’s voting shares.

"Facebook plays an outsized role in our society and our economy. They have a social and financial responsibility to be transparent – that's why we're demanding independence and accountability in the company's boardroom," Stringer said in an Oct. 17 statement. "We need Facebook's insular boardroom to make a serious commitment to addressing real risks – reputational, regulatory and the risk to our democracy – that impact the company, its shareowners and ultimately the hard-earned pensions of thousands of New York City workers."

The co-filing comes after Facebook recently revealed that a "security issue" in September exposed information on nearly 30 million of the social media company's users.

"Without an independent board chair, the board's oversight of the company remains inadequate as evidenced by the recent mishandling of several controversies," Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said in a statement.