By CCN: Those calling for the breakup of Facebook got some support from an unexpected player. Chris Hughes, the co-founder of the social media platform, expressed views in line with presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
In an opinion piece published Thursday by The New York Times, Chris Hughes charged that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has “unchecked power.” He wrote that the Facebook CEO’s influence goes “far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.”
Chris Hughes is right. Today’s big tech companies have too much power—over our economy, our society, & our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private info for profit, hurt small businesses & stifled innovation. It's time to #BreakUpBigTech. https://t.co/rZMftEwlkN
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 9, 2019
Is Zuck too Big for His Britches?
Hughes helped with the Facebook launch from a Harvard dorm room 15 years ago. Over the years, he’s kept an eye on the company and doesn’t like how it’s gone about growing to be the world’s largest social media program.
What's striking to me about Chris Hughes' op-ed isn't just his call to break up Facebook, but the way he describes Mark Zuckerberg as a singular threat to America https://t.co/zkejcPRnMj pic.twitter.com/SHhORzWFDq
— David Uberti (@DavidUberti) May 9, 2019
“Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.”
Hughes called Facebook’s board more of “an advisory committee than an overseer.” That’s because of Zuckerberg’s 60% voting share in the company. That gives him almost complete control of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Facebook, which has often positioned itself above the fray, responded to Hughes. Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs and Communications, wrote:
“Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the break up 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.”
The statement, which was aired on CNBC, goes on to say that Zuckerberg is meeting with government workers this week to discuss next steps. Facebook has been under intense scrutiny for the way it’s mishandled user data. It’s being probed by the Federal Trade Commission over how it shared user data with outside vendors.
There was also pushback against Hughes’ piece. Divya Narendra, a co-founder of the Harvard Connection with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, doesn’t believe Facebook is a monopoly.
He said on CNBC Thursday that the idea that Facebook should be broken up is preposterous.
“In his own op-ed, [Hughes] provides examples of five or six other companies [Facebook] competes with. Any app that takes your time throughout the course of the day is competing with Facebook. This idea that there isn’t competition in the space…is crazy.”
Hughes Catches Many by Surprise
Hughes’ stance on Facebook being broken up caught many by surprise.
Wow. Didn’t see this one coming from Facebook co-founder. Incredibly thoughtful, smart and comprehensive thoroughly backing up a position he is uniquely able to put forward. It deserves everyone’s attention. https://t.co/C701YQVZcl
— Jason Kint (@jason_kint) May 9, 2019
Views In Line With Presidential Hopeful
Elizabeth Warren penned a 1,700-word Medium post entitled “Here’s how we can break up Big Tech.” In it, she singled out Facebook along with Amazon and Google.
While causing their successes a “great story,” Warren blasts them as monopolies and charges that the “government must break up monopolies and promote competitive markets.”
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes says it's time to break up the company.
My bet is that this will land harder in Silicon Valley than Elizabeth Warren's pledge to break up Big Tech. https://t.co/yAVmsmv5r2
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) May 9, 2019