Progressive groups launch petition for government to break up Facebook

Progressive groups launch petition for government to break up Facebook
© Greg Nash

Left-leaning groups on Monday launched a campaign advocating for the government to break up Facebook.

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The groups, which include the Content Creators Coalition, Demand Progress and the Open Markets Institute, are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to force Facebook to do three things: spin off its subsidiaries like Instagram and WhatsApp into separate companies, make it possible to communicate across third-party social media platforms and strengthen its privacy rules.

The coalition plans on conducting a six-figure ad buy for its campaign, reports Axios. They intend to purchase ads on Facebook’s own platforms, including Messenger and Instagram, as well as Twitter and other mediums encouraging people to sign their petition. 

“Facebook unilaterally decides the news that billions of people around the world see every day. It buys up or bankrupts potential competitors to protect its monopoly, killing innovation and choice. It tracks us almost everywhere we go on the web and, through our smartphones, even where we go in the real world,” the groups wrote on their website.

Other progressive groups backing the effort include Citizens Against Monopoly, Jewish Voice for Peace, MoveOn.org, Mpower Change and SumOfUs.

FTC is already investigating Facebook over whether it violated a privacy agreement in 2011 in its dealings with Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct British research firm used by the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

The FTC's decision in that review is expected to be an early indicator of how the agency will treat big tech under the tenure of new Chairman Joe Simons.

The campaign is also a part of the steadily growing chorus of voices on the left who have soured on big tech over the past year.

During former President Obama’s administration, Silicon Valley enjoyed a close relationship with power players in Washington, but since disclosures of Russia's election interference and data privacy violations, Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups have increasingly taken shots at the companies.