You may have heard that some people are unhappy with Facebook and, more specifically, with its president and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
After years of scandals, a group of Facebook investors tried to replace Zuckerberg as president. That proposal and three other proposals against Zuckerberg were shot down at the company's annual shareholders meeting.
Calls to expel Zuckerberg also come from outside Facebook. The nonprofit organization Fight for the Future requested its removal in a very visible demonstration during the same shareholders meeting.
Whether for the role of Facebook in the 2016 presidential election or its mishandling of private user data, it is clear that many people are unhappy with Zuckerberg's leadership.
But what can they really do about it?
He concluded that, at least in the short term, very little can be done to force Facebook to take power away from Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg controls a special type of action that gives him 10 times more votes than the owner of a regular action, by Bloomberg.
Make the calculations, and it turns out that Zuckerberg controls almost 60 percent of all shareholders' votes by himself.
But, if enough people got tired of Facebook and stopped using their services, that could cause some introspection in the company … in theory.
"It will only change when the leadership team on Facebook feels they have to change to be successful as an organization," said Stanford professor Robert Siegel. "As long as the leadership feels they can keep the line in this, they will continue to do so."
It does not seem especially likely in the near future
Facebook seems more than happy to continue with its current approach because the company continues to perform well.
In addition to the homonymous social network, Zuckerberg chairs popular applications such as Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as the growing Oculus VR hardware division.
In other words
No amount of negative press has affected Facebook's bottom line enough to inspire a change at the top, at least not yet.
What's happening with the government?
Distrust of large technology companies is one of the few bipartisan problems in Washington at the moment: the FTC has been investigating Facebook for privacy issues for a while, while Congress launched an antitrust investigation in several companies, including Facebook, earlier this week.
In addition, Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, have at least made gestures at the idea of ??taking strong action on Facebook.
A common theme among the people Mashable spoke with was that government action was the most likely way to force change on Facebook.
Even if government regulation is the most likely outcome, that does not make it so likely. As NYU professor Arun Sundararajan put it, the threat of regulation could be more powerful than direct regulation itself.
"I think it is very unlikely that a government agency will directly try to make a change in the leadership structure of a publicly traded company," Sundararajan said. "If there is a feeling within the company that regulatory pressure can be partially relieved through Facebook by adopting a more democratic and more balanced government structure, I can see that as a way to get an independent president."
Steve Koepp co-founded From Day One
A series of conferences on corporate values, but he was also editor of Time and Fortune during the rise of Facebook to fame.
He and other staff members of Time isThey met with Zuckerberg in 2006 while explaining the new News Feed to the magazine staff.
Koepp said that Zuckerberg was "clearly a very motivated guy" at the time. But Koepp wonders how many of the company's changes to data privacy and election coverage will be significant rather than symbolic.
"There is not a single thing that takes him out of his position, but the people who come from many angles," Koepp said. "He is very motivated to defend himself from these things or get ahead of them."
If things exceed that point
It is uncertain what direct government regulation of a company like Facebook would look like at the moment.
Sundararajan suggested the possibility of dividing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp into separate companies or adopting stricter data privacy rules for users.
The issue of "fake news" could also come into play here.
At this time
There are multiple activist campaigns aimed at curbing Facebook. The stated goal of Freedom From Facebook is to get the FTC to break Facebook in the manner described above, and co-president Sarah Miller said that pressuring entities such as the FTC and Congress is more important than directly calling for the elimination of Zuckerberg in this moment.
"We believe it is your responsibility … to step forward, do your job and be the policeman," Miller said. "While we are not opposed to reducing Zuckerberg's power, we believe that, regardless of who is in charge, Facebook is one of the most dangerous monopolies in the world and only the government is in a position to change that."
Miller also acknowledged that the responsibility at the top would be "significant" to change the company's culture.
The non-profit organization Fight for the Future reached a slightly different tone earlier this year when it projected ?Fire Zuck? on the wall of the hotel where the annual Facebook shareholders meeting was held.
?Do I trust the federal government to do this? Do not".
The vice president of Fight for the Future
Evan Greer also admitted that removing Zuckerberg from Facebook would not rid the world of its ills, but it could be an important step in a much broader process.
"Putting Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook won't solve everything that's wrong on Facebook, but it would be a way to show progress," said Greer. "This is not the silver bullet that will magically change Silicon Valley and improve it, but this is a great first step."
Both Miller and Greer also agreed that the persistence of activists and the change of public opinion against Facebook could force government action on this issue. There is even vocal discrepancy between the company's shareholders. But, for Greer, regulation from the highest level will not occur on its own.
?Do I trust the federal government to do this? No, ?said Greer. ?I trust that the grassroots internet freedom movement will fight like hell to do it? Absolutely".
The best way forward is democratic reform within companies such as Facebook. Sundararajan felt that people within Facebook had a higher level of experience in sensitive issues at hand and, ultimately, could be better fixing things than government forces.
?I believe that any company with an intelligent future vision at this time will realize that it has what resembles the power of the government in a wide range of topics, from surveillance to censorship, to the configuration of our physical space through of augmented reality and intellectual property, ?said Sundararajan. said. "As they assume this responsibility, they also realize that their viability as custodians of the public trust is only possible in the long term if they go from being benevolent dictatorships that are today to have a slightly more democratic government structure."
According to Greer
The elimination of Zuckerberg or a major regulation of great technology would not be the end of the fight.
She called him ?One of the most important battles of our time?, But he stressed the need to not only address the problem, but also to do it well.
"We do not need to simply break these gigantic monopolies, but also replace them," Greer said. "How do we imagine what kind of internet we want to have as opposed to what we have now? ?