Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes: Time to break up company

Hughes calls Zuckerberg’s power ‘unprecedented and un-American’

In this March 13, 2019, file photo Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are are displayed on an iPhone in New York. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes says it time to break up the social media behemoth. He says in a New York Times opinion piece that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has allowed a relentless focus on growth that crushed competitors to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes says it’s time to break up the social media behemoth.

In a New York Times opinion piece published Thursday, Hughes said CEO Mark Zuckerberg has turned Facebook into an innovation-suffocating monopoly.

Hughes called Zuckerberg’s power “unprecedented and un-American” and said his co-founder’s focus on growth “led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.”

Hughes roomed with Zuckerberg at Harvard and left Facebook in 2007 to campaign for Barack Obama. Hughes said he no longer has any ownership in Facebook or any other social media company.

READ MORE: Facebook expects to pay up to $5 billion for privacy breaches

“I feel a sense of anger and responsibility,” he wrote, lamenting the company’s “slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news.”

Facebook has been under fire for an ever-expanding list of privacy and security lapses and for endangering democracy by failing to effectively combat the proliferation of misinformation and hate speech by extremist groups .

Facebook’s chief spokesman, Nick Clegg, responded to Hughes’ criticisms with a statement saying, “you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company. Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through the painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet. That is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg has called for.”

Zuckerberg has been vague, however, on exactly what kind of regulation he favours.

Critics including Hughes believe Facebook has acquired too much power to continue intact. Hughes’ call echoes a proposal by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who also wants to splinter Amazon and Google into separate companies.

In the opinion piece, Hughes called Facebook a monopoly that should be forced to spin off WhatsApp and Instagram, with future acquisitions banned for several years.

Hughes also called for a new federal agency to regulate tech companies whose “first mandate is to protect privacy.”

Debate has begun on a federal privacy protection bill. California has a law that takes effect in January and European Union privacy rules are now a year old.

Meanwhile, Facebook faces a fine of as much as $5 billion from the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations. But critics say the amount is but a slap on the wrist for a company that had $55.8 billion in revenue last year.

Hughes says he liquidated his Facebook shares in 2012, the year he became publisher of The New Republic. He said he does not invest in any social media companies.

Last year, Hughes published a book advocating a universal basic income. In 2017, Forbes put his net worth at more than $400 million.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island under a thunderstorm watch tonight

Environment Canada forecasts downpour and possible thunder and lightning

UPDATE: Hundreds march against location of safe injection site in Duncan

A Voice for Our Children opposes centre being near schools, recreation sites

No new leads in Brown homicide case

Five-year mark passes without any additional information provided to police

Work progresses on Clement Centre’s new building in Cobble Hill

Sod-turning ceremony for facility held on Sept. 21

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read