Specifically, Chris Hughes believes that his “friend” Mark Zuckerberg has too much control over speech.
Zuckerberg Is a Scary Master of the Universe
In a May op-ed in the New York Times, Chris Hughes wrote:
“The most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power is Mark’s unilateral control over speech. There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.”
Chris Hughes is absolutely correct. He reiterated his belief that Facebook should be broken up in an interview on CNBC, saying:
“The issue is that his power has grown too big because we’re not regulating our markets the way that we must.”
Hughes Acting Against His Own Interest
Given that Chris Hughes’ fortune is tied to the success of Facebook, it takes a lot of chutzpah to come out so openly in favor of an antitrust breakup of the company.
It’s also entirely possible that Chris Hughes sees a breakup as making the pieces more valuable than the whole.
Regardless of his motivations, Hughes’ voice is a significant one in the debate over the power of Big Tech.
We already know Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and other digital companies are silencing speech they don’t agree with, primarily from conservative voices.
Who Oversees Free Speech?
It isn’t the place of these private companies to determine what speech is allegedly hateful or inflammatory. In doing so, there is also an implicit approval of other types of speech.
Free speech is free speech. It’s better for speech to be out in the open so we know who is making it than forcing it underground where it can only fester and grow in power.
Where Hughes has it wrong is in suggesting that a breakup of Facebook from Instagram and WhatsApp is going to solve this problem. The issue is with the regulation of speech, not the monopoly structure of its other businesses.
The monopoly that exists with Facebook, in being the de-facto social media platform that captures the vast majority of digital billboard advertising, is the very fact that its size determines how far speech gets propagated (or restricted).
Chris Hughes is right regarding Zuckerberg. He deserves our support.