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

UPDATE: Williams Lake RCMP suspend search overnight for suspect on the run

Public asked to keep eye out for suspicous activity

CRD gives final approval for three new wheelchair-accessible trails

The CRD secured $100,000 through a rural dividend grant and matched an additional $30,000

WildSafeBC hires new co-ordinator for Cariboo region

Mareike Moore said the main message is keeping wildlife wild, communities safe

Are you sending your children back to school?

The weekly web poll for the 100 Mile Free Press

Parkside Art Gallery reopens to the public on June 2

Claudia Rings raises $2,500 from mask sales for Parkside Art Gallery

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment in schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Most Read