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 ZuckerbergThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle House Intel to take first major deep dive into threat of 'deepfakes' 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 CicillineOvernight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale Pelosi: Congress will block Trump's arms sales to Saudi Arabia MORE (D-R.I.) for taking an interest in checking the power of monopolies and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Julián Castro defends going on Fox: I'm focused on 'the people out there watching' MORE (D-Minn.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez and Cruz's dialogue shows common ground isn't just for moderates Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists MORE (R-Texas) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJulián Castro defends going on Fox: I'm focused on 'the people out there watching' Julián Castro defends going on Fox: I'm focused on 'the people out there watching' O'Rourke unveils plan to support women, minority-owned businesses 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.