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 ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Democrats press FTC to resolve data privacy 'crisis' House Oversight Democrat presses Facebook for 'failure' to protect users Hillicon Valley — Facebook 'too late' curbing climate falsities 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 CicillineHillicon Valley —Apple is not a monopoly, judge rules Judge rules Apple is not 'illegal monopolist' in high-profile Epic case Democrats' Jan. 6 subpoena-palooza sets dangerous precedent MORE (D-R.I.) for taking an interest in checking the power of monopolies and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThis week: Democrats face mounting headaches Klobuchar: 'It is evil to make it deliberately hard for people to vote' Democrats push to shield election workers from violent threats   MORE (D-Minn.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Republican politicians: Let OSHA do its job O'Rourke prepping run for governor in Texas: report MORE (R-Texas) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' The Trojan Horse of protectionism Federal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review 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.