Co-founder: Break up Facebook

Co-founder: Break up Facebook
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One of Facebook’s co-founders on Thursday called for the social media giant to be broken up, calling CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook users in lawsuit say company failed to warn them of known risks before 2018 breach Social media never intended to be in the news business — but just wait till AI takes over Facebook exploring deals with media outlets for news section: report MORE’s power “unprecedented and un-American.”

Chris Hughes wrote in a lengthy op-ed for The New York Times that he feels a “sense of anger and responsibility” for the company’s wrongs.

“We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American,” Hughes wrote.

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Hughes pointed to Zuckerberg’s “staggering” influence at the company, which controls three major platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. He said Zuckerberg controls about 60 percent of voting shares for Facebook’s board, giving Zuckerberg immense control over algorithms, privacy settings and “even which messages get delivered." 

“The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines,” Hughes wrote, adding that he hasn’t seen Zuckerberg since 2017.

Hughes wrote that Zuckerberg is a “good, kind person” but said he has grown angry that Zuckerberg’s “focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.”

“I don’t blame Mark for his quest for domination. He has demonstrated nothing more nefarious than the virtuous hustle of a talented entrepreneur,” Hughes wrote in the Times. “Yet he has created a leviathan that crowds out entrepreneurship and restricts consumer choice. It’s on our government to ensure that we never lose the magic of the invisible hand. How did we allow this to happen?”

Hughes wrote that Facebook should be separated into multiple companies and called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department to enforce antitrust laws by undoing Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. 

“The cost of breaking up Facebook would be next to zero for the government, and lots of people stand to gain economically,” he said. “A ban on short-term acquisitions would ensure that competitors, and the investors who take a bet on them, would have the space to flourish. Digital advertisers would suddenly have multiple companies vying for their dollars.”

This kind of aggressiveness might persuade other media “behemoths” like Google and Amazon against squashing competitors, Hughes suggested.

He also praised Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineFirst House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons Hillicon Valley: O'Rourke proposal targets tech's legal shield | Dem wants public review of FCC agreement with T-Mobile, Sprint | Voters zero in on cybersecurity | Instagram to let users flag misinformation Democrat calls for public review of T-Mobile-Sprint merger agreement MORE (D-R.I.) for taking an interest in checking the power of monopolies and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-Minn.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? GOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (R-Texas) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE (D-Mass.) for calling for more oversight.

“Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook, but our government can,” Hughes concluded.

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment on Hughes's op-ed.