Co-founder: Break up Facebook

Co-founder: Break up Facebook
© Getty

One of Facebook’s co-founders on Thursday called for the social media giant to be broken up, calling CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergWarren targets Facebook with ad claiming Zuckerberg supports Trump Key Democrat presses FTC over Facebook settlement's 'dangerous precedent' On The Money: Fed officials saw rising risk of recession | Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz blast NBA for 'outrageous' response to China | Prospects dim for trade breakthrough with China 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CicillineCelebrating the LGBTQ contribution to progress in business The Memo: Trump's rage may backfire on impeachment Top House Democrat: Trump did 'on camera' what Romney warned about MORE (D-R.I.) for taking an interest in checking the power of monopolies and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada MORE (D-Minn.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz: 'Of course' it's not appropriate to ask China to investigate Bidens Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter MORE (R-Texas) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' Warren enters crucial debate with big momentum 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.