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

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Alert Bay: COVID-19 cases go from 30 to zero thanks to health and emergency planning

Dr. Cutfeet says community leadership set Alert Bay up for success

Kwakiutl First Nation cautiously eases restrictions around COVID-19; Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw to remain locked down for now

Both First Nations near Port Hardy have no COVID-19 cases, and are prioritizing community safety

Pacific Coastal Airlines will resume service next month

‘We are pleased to confirm that we will be resuming scheduled service on June 1, 2020’

MP Rachel Blaney feels low-income boost for seniors falls short, but is pleased with the support for commercial fishers

‘Seniors in our communities have been asking for help with additional costs due to COVID-19’

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read