Sue Desmond-Hellmann smiles during a Bloomberg Television interview at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Washington, U.S. (Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg)

Facebook's Lead Board Member Backs Zuckerberg in Wake of Breach

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. lead independent board member Susan Desmond-Hellmann said Mark Zuckerberg is the right leader to tackle the company’s user trust problems in the wake of recent privacy lapses.

The company’s board has faced several shareholder proposals that would dilute Zuckerberg’s power, either by stripping his chairmanship or reducing his voting control. The company has faced crisis after crisis, from the spread of misinformation on its network to data leaks and the departure of Instagram executives. Facebook on Friday announced its worst-ever hack, in which attackers gained full access to the accounts of about 50 million users.

Desmond-Hellmann, who is chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a Bloomberg Television interview that Zuckerberg is an adaptable leader who can address these issues.

“Facebook right now has a number of challenges, and I have a lot of confidence that Mark as Chairman and CEO is going to drive Facebook in the right direction,” she said on the Bloomberg Technology TV show. “I would endorse everything that he’s written and his testimony because I have confidence in him and Sheryl (Sandberg) and the leadership team to drive Facebook to be what I also want Facebook to be -- a good company that people trust and feel good about.”

Desmond-Hellmann joined Bloomberg Technology to discuss how data is affecting philanthropic strategy at the Gates foundation. You can watch the whole interview here.

Zuckerberg earlier this year spent hours testifying before Congress and the European parliament, answering questions on data privacy after a separate scandal involving user information transferred to Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy. He apologized for the lapse and said he would work to earn back user trust. Those efforts were hampered by last week’s attack, which exposed vulnerabilities in Facebook’s software.

Desmond-Hellmann compared Facebook’s current challenge to the company’s effort to adjust to mobile phones soon after its 2012 initial public offering.

“The switch from desktop to mobile required an enormous drive and leadership and a huge change for Facebook,” she said. “I would tell you that having worked with Mark and knowing Mark before I joined the board, I am so impressed with how he’s grown and developed as Chairman and CEO.”

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