Published: Thu, May 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Facebook co-founder calls for company to break up over 'unprecedented' power

Facebook co-founder calls for company to break up over 'unprecedented' power

Politicians like Elizabeth Warren have been sounding this horn for a bit now amid a growing outcry that Facebook and other tech giants should be broken up on antitrust grounds.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes called for the break up of Facebook today, arguing in a New York Times op-ed that the site needs to be reined in because its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has "unchecked power" in modern life.

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.

Hughes said the government should create a new agency to regulate technology companies and create "acceptable guidelines" for free speech on social media. While Hughes defended Zuckerberg as a "good, kind person", he cast him as a man hellbent on domination, even when it imperils the American public and democracy.

No aspect of Facebook is more troubling than Zuckerberg's total authority, Hughes wrote, calling it "unprecedented and un-American". His "influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government", because he controls what billions of people around the world see and hear. Zuckerberg himself has called for regulation in a March op-ed published in The Post. "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 states that despite not working at Facebook for more than 15 years, he feels a sense of "anger and responsibility" following Facebook's recent privacy scandals.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of MA, for one, released a plan in March that would impose new rules on tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual ad revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to dramatically reduce their hold on online commerce. Its first mandate should be to protect privacy. Elizabeth Warren in March vowed to break up Facebook, Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google if elected US president to promote competition in the tech sector.

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

Facebook Inc and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are negotiating a possible settlement that would require the company to create an independent privacy oversight committee and take other steps to safeguard users.

Facebook has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation's request for comment about Hughes' calls for a major breakup.

Hughes said he last met with Zuckerberg in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.

"I'm anxious that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them", Hughes warned.

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