Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly overhauled board to assert more control

The departure of key directors has helped consolidate decision-making power at the social networking giant, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recast his board of directors, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly recast his board of directors to cast aside dissenters and consolidate decision-making power at the social media giant. The campaign culminated in the recent departures of two directors from the board and the appointment of a longtime friend of Zuckerberg, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The moves have also allowed Zuckerberg to take a more publicly visible leadership role at the company he founded 16 years ago, the Journal reported. He has helmed the company's high-profile campaign in the battle against the coronavirus, conducting interviews on the response with prominent politicians and health care professionals.

The changes to the board come as the company seeks to improve its reputation after three years of scandals involving the social media giant being used to spread misinformation, lax oversight of user data and governmental scrutiny of the its competitive practices.

Zuckerberg testified before Congress in 2018 and 2019 to defend the company's data privacy practices, after revelations surfaced in March 2018 that UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission. The company has agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the largest monetary penalty obtained by the US on behalf of the FTC.

Facebook, along with a handful of other tech giants, has been the target of a congressional committee investigating antitrust issues in the tech sector. The investigation is exploring competition in online markets and whether big tech companies are engaging in "anti-competitive conduct."

Kenneth Chenault, who was appointed Facebook's first black board member in 2018, left the board in March, reportedly over disagreements with Zuckerberg over the company's governance and political policies. Two weeks later, Facebook announced that Jeffrey Zients, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama who also joined the board in 2018, would seek re-election. Both had been unhappy for months with the company's executive management and how it handled misinformation on the platform, the Journal reported.

In April 2019, Facebook said longtime independent board members Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Erskine Bowles would be leaving the board. In October, the company announced the departure of Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the board's lead independent director since June 2015. Both were linked to private comments expressing frustration at how the company was being run, the Journal reported.

Only four of the nine directors who began 2019 on the board remain, the Journal reported.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.