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CIO of CalSTRS — $1B Facebook Shareholder — Shuts Account in Disgust

“Their lack of oversight and poor management is offensive,” Christopher Ailman tweeted Wednesday.

  • By Leanna Orr

Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer of California’s $224 billion teachers’ pension fund, has had it with Facebook.

“I have deactivated my Facebook account,” Ailman tweeted Wednesday from his personal account, @CJAtheCIO. “Their lack of oversight and poor management is offensive. #DeleteFacebook.”

[II Deep Dive: New York State Presses Facebook, Twitter to Improve]

The post sparked support and debate from Twitter users, garnering more than 100 likes, 40 retweets, and 30 comments as of Thursday afternoon. His missives typically garner a handful of engagements.

With approximately 1,500 followers, Ailman is rare among institutional CIOs in having a regular presence on social media. Facebook., however, is no longer among them.

The technology company’s shares have slid about 14 percent since mid-February, when news broke that political operative Cambridge Analytica had data and identities for millions of accounts, in some cases accessed by users’ friends taking personality quizzes.

On Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged on a call with reporters that the problem was much bigger than originally disclosed. “Malicious actors” had access to details on most of its 2 billion users, according to a Washington Post account of the call. 

Facebook’s leadership has been roundly criticized for its reticent, and initially dismissive, handling of the scandal.

Ailman joined the #DeleteFacebook campaign in an individual capacity, not as a representative of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s official position. However, the organization itself has concerns, according to a statement released Thursday.

“We are currently establishing contact with Facebook to learn more about what controls are in place today to protect users’ data into the future,” said portfolio manager Aeisha Mastagni. “Additionally, we would like to understand what additional steps Facebook is taking to protect this data in order to regain the trust of their users, the public, and their shareholders. Given the nature of this ongoing engagement, CalSTRS looks forward to having a substantive dialogue with Facebook’s leadership on this issue, as well as other governance matters, from our perspective as a large shareholder.”

CalSTRS owned $931 million in Facebook stock as of December 31, 2017, and has invested in the company since its 2012 IPO. The public fund has a robust corporate governance program, to which Mastagni belongs, and frequently engages with its portfolio companies as issues arise — publicly or behind-the-scenes.

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