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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Agassiz Fall Fair celebrates 115 years of fair fun

From 4H shows to pie eating contests, the annual fair brought its best to the community this year

Agassiz Fall Fair kicks off Saturday events with parade, Corn King

Martin Dinn is this year’s Corn King for the community

Michael Nenn running with NDP in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon

The Mission resident will be seeking a seat in parliament in the federal election this October

UPDATE: Missing man has been located

Friends were concerned for well-being of 44-year-old Jean Pierre Baril

VIDEO: Harrison’s Bands on the Beach a long weekend hit

The annual two-day outdoor concert took place at the waterfront over the long weekend

National weather forecasters predict average fall, cold winter

The Weather Network says precipitation will about average in most parts of Canada

Two dead, two in critical condition in highway crash near Campbell River

Highway 19 reopened Sunday night after it was closed in both directions

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle in Surrey

Investigators were asking anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward

Most Read