- REUTERS/Adam Hunger
- Chris Hughes, one of Facebook’s cofounders, called Mark Zuckerberg’s power “unprecedented and un-American” in a scathing op-ed in The New York Times on Thursday.
- Hughes, who was Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard, said the Facebook CEO’s social-media empire should be broken up into separate public companies and that Zuckerberg himself wields too much power.
- Several political officials, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, publicly supported Hughes’ call to break up Facebook.
- Facebook issued a statement reiterating its commitment to working with federal officials on oversight regulation.
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Chris Hughes, one of Facebook’s founders, publicly called for his cocreation to be broken up in a scathing New York Times op-ed on Thursday.
Hughes, who cofounded the social-media giant with Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, called the Facebook CEO’s power “unprecedented and un-American” and said Facebook has turned into a dangerous monopoly. Hughes wrote that he realized the extent of the damage in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018.
America, Hughes said, has always been opposed to monopolies but has forgotten about the danger autocracy poses to democracy. Zuckerberg’s power, he said, resembles that of oil and transportation barons of the 19th century and should be reined in.
“Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power,” Hughes wrote. “The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.”
Hughes’ call for government intervention has not fallen on deaf ears. As of Thursday afternoon, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among the political officials publicly supporting Hughes’ call to break up Facebook.
“Chris Hughes is right. Today’s big tech companies have too much power-over our economy, our society, & our democracy,” Warren tweeted Thursday morning. “They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private info for profit, hurt small businesses & stifled innovation. It’s time to #BreakUpBigTech.”
‘An exhausting pattern’
“Every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation,” he said.
Breaking it up would increase competition and put more pressure on the company to do better in the future, in an outcome that he said would be better for America.
“The biggest winners would be the American people. Imagine a competitive market in which they could choose among one network that offered higher privacy standards, another that cost a fee to join but had little advertising, and another that would allow users to customize and tweak their feeds as they saw fit,” Hughes wrote.
Amid the uproar, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communication, issued a statement to CNN reiterating Zuckerberg’s commitment to working with federal officials on oversight regulation.
“Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company,” Clegg wrote. “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.”