Wednesday, 19 June, 2019


Break up Facebook, says company's co-founder

Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes: Break Up Facebook Facebook co-founder calls for breakup of social media giant
Conrad Doyle | 10 May, 2019, 16:26

USA lawmakers are also considering privacy legislation that would weaken companies like Facebook by reducing the amount of personal user data they control, thus reducing their value to advertisers.

Hughes said if the government insists on not breaking up or regulating the company, Facebook's monopoly will become more entrenched that competitors will have no equal opportunity to compete with Facebook for decades to come.

Mr Hughes shared a room with Mr Zuckerberg at Harvard University in the USA and left Facebook in 2007 to campaign for Barack Obama.

"Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability", Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg said in response to the piece.

According to the entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg's personal power in the company is "staggering", with the board of directors working "more like an advisory committee than an overseer" due to Zuckerberg's control of an estimated 60 per cent voting shares.

Hughes also voiced his disappointment in himself and the initial developers of Facebook for "not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders". "He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it", he warned.

For one, Hughes isn't an economist or politician-but someone who helped build Facebook and knows Mark Zuckerberg personally.

Facebook rejected this argument in a statement Thursday afternoon, suggesting that regulation of the internet - as Zuckerberg called for in a March op-ed published in The Washington Post - was the only thing that would bring real accountability.

Hughes also calls for a new agency in charge of regulating technology companies, with a focus on privacy.

MA senator Elizabeth Warren has pledged that if she is elected president she will break up Facebook, Amazon and Google, criticizing "anti-competitive mergers" such as Facebook's acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014, respectively. "But I'm angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks", wrote Hughes, who is now co-chairman of the Economic Security Project and a senior adviser at liberal think tank the Roosevelt Institute.

Hughes co-founded Facebook in 2004 at Harvard with the company's Chief Executive Officer Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz.

Hughes also called on the USA to create a government agency focused on regulating tech companies.

Zuckerberg, Hughes said, "is still the same person I watched hug his parents as they left our dorm's common room at the beginning of our sophomore year". That is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg has called for.

The company's dominance in the social media space leaves Facebook's billions of users with little alternatives.

Hughes argues that an expected $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission won't be sufficient to hold the company accountable.

He said that "the way forward is to heavily scrutinize future mergers and to ensure no company has anti-competitive platform privileges".

"There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people", he says.

Hughes also proposed a new government agency to protect privacy. He proposes Facebook be split into separate companies - undoing the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and banning any more acquisitions.

I reached out to Facebook to see if they had a comment, but I haven't heard back.

He says the agency should "create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media" while noting that the idea might seem "un-American" at first.

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