- The Aspen Institute/YouTube
- Mark Zuckerberg reiterated on Wednesday that he thought breaking up Facebook was a bad idea, saying lawmakers should not “take a big hammer” to the company.
- The Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes published an op-ed article last month saying the core of Facebook should be separated from subsidiaries like Instagram and WhatsApp to reduce its power.
- Zuckerberg argues that Facebook’s enormous size is what enables it to fight problems like election interference.
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Mark Zuckerberg has doubled down on his argument that it would be a bad idea to break up Facebook, saying lawmakers should not “take a big hammer” to the company.
In an interview with the Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday, Zuckerberg was asked about his cofounder Chris Hughes’ New York Times op-ed article in May, in which Hughes said Facebook should be separated from WhatsApp and Instagram.
The argument is not unique to Hughes – some US politicians including the Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren have made breaking up big tech part of their ticket for office.
“I don’t agree with that one,” Zuckerberg said, laughing. He countered that breaking up big tech companies like Facebook would do nothing to solve looming problems like election interference and harmful content, because only companies as large as Facebook had the resources to fight these problems.
“The ability to work on election integrity or content systems – we have an ability now because we’re a successful company and we’re large to be able to go build these systems that I think are unprecedented,” Zuckerberg said.
“It’s not the case that if you broke up Facebook into a bunch of pieces you wouldn’t have those issues,” he added. “You would have those issues – you would just be much less equipped to deal with them.”
Zuckerberg addressed the common counterargument that Facebook’s immense size means it is at the heart of these problems in the first place, making it impossible for the company to effectively fight the deluge of problems on its platforms.
“The proof point that shows that that is wrong is that you can look at the other social-media companies out there,” he said. “Look at Twitter, look at Reddit, all these different services … they have hundreds of millions of people instead of billions, but do they face qualitatively different issues? The same kind of misinformation questions or election interference, are they not suffering from those too? They absolutely are.
“I can kind of get why politically saying that you want to break up the companies feels nice, right. It’s like: ‘OK, there are issues. Let’s just take a big hammer and go do it.’ But I just think the reality is we want to make sure the things we do actually address the problems.”
This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg has pushed back against breaking up Facebook. Shortly after Hughes’ piece appeared in The Times, Zuckerberg told reporters that Facebook’s size didn’t quash competition and instead helped it fight abuse. The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, echoed that sentiment earlier this month, saying that being orphaned from Facebook would make it harder for Instagram to “keep people safe.”
You can watch the full interview with Zuckerberg here: