Break up Facebook, cofounder says:
it’s an un-American monopoly
By Lisa Vaas, Sophos
May 13, 2019
Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American. It is time to break up Facebook.
That’s the gist of what Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes had to say in a lengthy op-ed published by the New York Times on Thursday. Of course, he was referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Well, he can probably kiss that friendship goodbye, Hughes said in an interview with CBS This Morning. The two were roommates while they attended Harvard and launched what would become the world’s most dominant social media platform. They’ve been friends ever since, even after Hughes left the company 10 years ago.
Great guy, perhaps a little power mad, and definitely in charge of a social media monopoly that’s strangling innovation in the cradle, Hughes said of Zuckerberg:
The untouchable king of social media
Hughes’s editorial delves into how Zuckerberg – who controls 60% of the company’s voting shares – is, to quote a Vox headline, “essentially untouchable.”
Hughes says this lack of checks on the head of a company that’s now worth about half a trillion dollars was evident in the aftermath of 2018 – what he calls Facebook’s “annus horribilis”, when Russian meddling in US discourse via social media came into focus and the Cambridge Analytica data debacle hatched.
Disgusted users across the world launched a “Delete Facebook” movement. Fat lot of good it did them. Hughes referred to figures from the Pew Research Center that found that a quarter of users deleted their accounts from their phones during the year leading up to June 2018, but many did so only temporarily. And maybe some of them never left at all but thought they had, ignorant to the fact that Facebook has gobbled up social media rivals including WhatsApp and Instagram.
Hughes thinks it’s time for the US to relearn how to bust monopolies, and Facebook is a good place to start. And no, we shouldn’t allow industries to self-regulate, he said:
A $5 billion fine won’t solve this
The US Federal Trade Commission is now weighing whether to hold Zuckerberg and Facebook accountable for the string of privacy lapses, the Washington Post reported last month. In a statement, Facebook said they “hope to reach an appropriate and fair resolution.”
Even the $5 billion fine that the FTC is expected to impose won’t be enough to slow Facebook down, Hughes says. Rather, it’s apparently more like throwing fuel on a fire, given the spike in stock price that it sparked:
Nor will Facebook’s offer to appoint some kind of privacy czar. The government “must hold Mark accountable,” Hughes said, rather than just being bowled over by the company’s success and made to look like doddering techno-illiterates: