Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann – a member of Pfizer Inc.’s Board of Directors – previously served as the Lead Independent Director at social media giant Facebook. The site has routinely censored posts relating to COVID-19 vaccines, with Pfizer in particular eliciting support from major corporate outlets.
Hellman was appointed to the social media platform’s board in March 2013 and served as it Lead Independent Director from June 2015 until October 30th 2019, shortly before the first reported case of COVID-19.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, said “Sue has been a wonderful and thoughtful voice on the board for six years, and I’m personally grateful to her for everything she has done for this company” in response to her departure.
“I remain positive about Facebook and the mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Facebook’s Shareholders require a Board of Directors that is fully engaged and committed to address the critical issues confronting Facebook at this time,” Hellmann explained in reference to her role as the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Unfortunately, increasing demands from my CEO role, my extended family, and my own health make it no longer possible for me to commit the necessary time and energy required to properly serve Facebook and its shareholders,” she added in a public statement despite joining Pfizers board in 2020.
Amidst Hellmann’s tenure on the Pfizer board, Facebook has initiated campaigns to censor COVID-19 vaccine skeptics, as leaked internal documents from the company reveal algorithms aimed at “drastically reduc[ing] user exposure to vaccine hesitancy (VH) in comments.”
The 15-page document – titled “Vaccine Hesitancy Comment Demotion” – summarizes its goal as “reducing the visibility of these comments represents another significant opportunity for us to remove barriers to vaccination that users on the platform may potentially encounter.
Potentially presenting another conflict of interest, Hellman also serves on President Joe Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which is described by the White House as the “sole body of external advisors charged with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President.”