In a op-ed released on Thursday for The New York Times, Facebook’s co-founder, Chris Hughes, spoke out about the company. Hughes condemned CEO Mark Zuckerberg for becoming too powerful, and would go on to claim that Zuckerberg’s usage of said power is unprecedented and un-American, per The Daily Mail.
Zuckerberg’s Harvard roommate said that he has watched with horror as the company he co-founded and dreamed into existence has become an effective monopoly that threatens to stifle free speech and competitive innovation.
“It is time to break up Facebook. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American.”
Hughes helped to create Facebook from the beginning, setting up key components of the site, such as the news feed. He left the company in 2007, and liquidated his stock in 2012. Now, he is asking federal regulators to break Facebook up into separate companies, citing his main concern as Zuckerberg’s “unilateral control over speech.”
“There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people. Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.”
In Opinion— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 9, 2019
Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, writes, "It is time to break up Facebook. We already have the tools we need to check the domination of Facebook. We just seem to have forgotten about them." https://t.co/HuDfILXmV2
The problem, Hughes contended, is that Zuckerberg has unlimited control over all Facebook settings — including privacy controls, and the algorithms that determine what shows up in each individual user’s news feed. Hughes added that Zuckerberg has the control to determine what constitutes violent speech versus what is merely offensive, while also being able to eliminate a competitor by acquiring, blocking, or copying it.
In a separate television interview with NBC Nightly News, Hughes reiterated his concern.
“The reason I am speaking out is because I think Facebook has become too big, too powerful. He is extremely powerful because he has no boss, because there has been no regulatory agency from the federal government.”
Hughes’ solution is for the federal government to use the Sherman Antitrust Act to eliminate the Facebook monopoly — the same laws that broke up Standard Oil in 1911 and AT&T in 1982.
Federal intervention is lacking because of Facebook’s willingness to maintain the site as free for users, instead making money by mining personal data to sell to advertisers looking to promote targeted ads, per The Daily Mail.
Given that Facebook has purchased competing social media sites Instagram and Snapchat, the company now has 80 percent control over global social media revenue, Hughes estimates. Ultimately, he believes that it’s time for Facebook to be reigned in.
“Facebook isn’t afraid of a few more rules. It’s afraid of an antitrust case and of the kind of accountability that real government oversight would bring.”