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Dow Jones: Privacy Scandals Led to Facebook’s S&P 500 ESG Ouster

Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:47 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:47 PM
  • S&P Dow Jones revealed the embarrassing reason it booted Facebook stock from the S&P 500 ESG Index.
  • Facebook’s cornucopia of privacy scandals caused its ESG score to plunge to alarming levels.
  • The same day that Dow Jones kicked FB out of the index, Mark Zuckerberg pledged to make Facebook a champion of privacy rights.

By CCN.com: It’s not clear which privacy snafu broke the camel’s back, but scandal-ridden Facebook stock now finds itself on the outside looking in at a key S&P Dow Jones sustainability index, the S&P 500 ESG.

Facebook wasn’t the only major tech stock to get the boot, as S&P Dow Jones also gave pink slips to former S&P 500 ESG components Oracle and IBM. However, FB’s ouster was particularly notable, given that it comprised 2.5% of the entire S&P 500 ESG Index.

S&P Dow Jones Says Privacy Scandals Eviscerated Facebook’s Sustainability Rating

facebook privacy scandals
Privacy sandals, including the Cambridge Analytica debacle, caused FB’s sustainability scores to implode. | Source: Shutterstock.

Earlier this week, Global Head of ESG Reid Steadman published a blog post  exposing the justifications for Facebook’s embarrassing ouster from the index, which occurred at the end of April.

The simple reason Facebook got the boot from the sustainability index? The Mark Zuckerberg-led firm just isn’t all that sustainable.

The S&P 500 ESG is restricted to companies that practice environmental, social, and governance sustainability. According to Steadman, Facebook’s ESG Scores  were alarmingly low.

facebook stock removed from S&P Dow Jones S&P 500 ESG Index
Facebook’s governance score was just 6 on a scale of 0 to 100. | Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices

Facebook’s “governance” score was just 6. That would be bad enough on a scale of 0 to 10. However, the ESG scale goes all the way up to 100.

The company’s “social” score wasn’t all that much better, clocking in at just 22, also on a scale of 0 to 100.

Granted, Facebook had a high “environmental” score (82), but Steadman stressed that this is a bit of a red herring since “environmental issues tend to be less material for tech companies.”

RobecoSAM, which partners with S&P Dow Jones to curate the S&P 500 ESG, leveled this withering indictment of Facebook:

“The specific issues resulting in these scores had to do with various privacy concerns, including a lack of transparency as to why Facebook collects and shares certain user information…. These events have created uncertainty about Facebook’s diligence regarding privacy protection, and the effectiveness of the company risk management processes and how the company enforces them.”

That’s brutal – carefully sanitized corporate-speak or not.

Facebook Received Its ESG Pink Slip in Same Week Mark Zuckerberg Pumped Privacy Campaign

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook privacy
Mark Zuckerberg promised that he and his social media company would be champions for privacy rights – the same week that FB unwittingly exited the S&P 500 ESG. | Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

In one of Wall Street’s bitter ironies, Facebook’s removal from the S&P 500 ESG occurred on April 30, in tandem with the index’s annual rebalancing.

That same day, Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at the F8 developer conference and, as The Verge reported , promised that Facebook would be a champion for privacy rights.

“Over time, I believe that a private social platform will be even more important to our lives than our digital town squares. So today, we’re going to start talking about what this could look like as a product, what it means to have your social experience be more intimate, and how we need to change the way we run this company in order to build this,” he claimed.