Technology

Facebook co-founder calls for the company to be broken up

Facebook co-founder calls for the company to be broken up: Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is calling for the breakup of the social media juggernaut, citing the threat of the platform’s unchecked power and that of its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.

Hughes, who left Facebook to work for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, said that from his own experience building and working inside the company, Facebook now has more power than a private sector entity is due. While emphasizing his belief that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has good intentions overall, he said the executive has far too much-unchecked power, aided by his majority voting stake in the company.

“The most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power is Mark’s unilateral control over speech,” Hughes wrote. “There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.”

Facebook cofounder calls for company to break up over ‘unprecedented’ power

In a statement, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg said, “Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the break up 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. Indeed, he is meeting Government leaders this week to further that work.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, in March vowed https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/08/reuters-america-update-4-wall-st-critic-warren-vows-to-break-up-amazon-facebook-google.html to break up Facebook, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google if elected U.S. president to promote competition in the tech sector.

“Today’s big tech companies have too much power—over our economy, our society, & our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private info for profit, hurt small businesses & stifled innovation. It’s time to #BreakUpBigTech,” Warren said on Twitter on Thursday.

It’s no coincidence that Hughes chose to write this op-ed now. Facebook is preparing to merge the technology behind its three messaging platforms, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, as part of its new vision for social media as a private communications network. That vision came after Facebook’s more public forms of communication were found to be used by foreign actors to try to influence voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Facebook’s plans to integrate the platforms means that “time is of the essence,” Hughes wrote, saying that if the plans are completed, it would be more difficult for the Federal Trade Commission to break them apart.

“I don’t think these proposals were made in bad faith,” Hughes said. “But I do think they’re an attempt to head off the argument that regulators need to go further and break up the company. 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.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has called for the creation of “more, and fairer” social media companies in response to discrimination he alleges he has faced as a Republican from Twitter Inc.

Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, said in a statement that he agreed that in retrospect that U.S. regulators “should not have approved Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram & WhatsApp in 2012.”