STATES CHRONICLE – Facebook hosted its annual shareholder meeting, and its entire board of directors was up for re-election. Following the meeting, it was revealed that all of its members had been re-elected. The list includes Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Peter Thiel, Reed Hastings, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Erskine Bowles, Jan Koum, and Marc Andreessen.
Although Sheryl Sandberg had previously stated that the board would re-elect Peter Thiel, the decision still came as a shock to several media communities.
Peter Thiel is known as the man who single-handedly forced news outlet Gawker into declaring bankruptcy. More recently, he funded the Hulk Hogan lawsuit which lead to Gawker being financially devastated.
Facebook has stated that Thiel’s actions were independent of his work for Facebook. He used his own money independently from the company. Several members of Facebook’s board of directors have had public side projects in the past. They acted independently of the company’s agenda, and Peter Thiel’s case is not seen to be different by the board of directors.
While Facebook’s statements are true, the actions of Peter Thiel can be seen as an attempt at forced censorship of the press. Before this year’s shareholder meeting, several media publisher partners of Facebook had already expressed concern in regards to keeping Peter Thiel.
Many will interpret the re-election as a guarded maneuver in which Thiel is directly rewarded after being able to bankrupt a company which had worked with Facebook previously. Nevertheless, Facebook had earlier stated publically and on the record that Peter Thiel would not be leaving the company’s board of directors. A change of mind could have had a greater potential adverse effect in the long run.
There are also some who believe Mark Zuckerberg awarded Peter Thiel considerable special treatment in regards to the whole situation. The two are considered to be close friends and recent in-house events can more than confirm this.
In February, Mark Zuckerberg received an award for Facebook from Axel Springer, the German media company. During the ceremony, Peter Thiel gave a six-minute long speech which revolved around praising Mark Zuckerberg for all he has achieved with Facebook and also praising Facebook for, as he saw it, making the world and the internet better places to be.
It is true that in the past year Facebook has significantly managed to improve its features as a social media service. A full re-election of the board of directors also means that the board, including Peter Thiel, is going in the right direction.
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