Facebook co-founder calls for social media giant to breakup

Chris Hughes describes CEO Mark Zuckerberg's power at Facebook as "un-American" in a New York Times op-ed

10May

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has called for the breakup of Facebook in an op-ed in the New York Times, in which he argued that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has too much power at the social media giant and that it had become a monopoly.

"We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well-intentioned the leaders of these companies may be," Hughes, who left Facebook in 2007, stated in his op-ed. "Mark's power is unprecedented and un-American."

"I take responsibility for not sounding the alarm earlier," he added.

Hughes said he was concerned that Zuckerberg, who controls 60% of voting shares on Facebook's board, had surrounded himself with a team that does not challenge him, and called on the US government to hold him accountable and restrain his "unchecked power".

Hughes, who served as spokesman for Facebook during the networking sites early years, said that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had made a mistake by allowing Facebook to acquire Instagram and WhatsApp, adding that time was running out to fix the issue. He wrote that WhatsApp and Instagram were, until recently, administered as independent platforms, but that Facebook was working "quickly" to "integrate all three platforms".

Facebook vice-president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg, a former UK Deputy Prime Minister, hit back, stating: "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."

In recent months, Facebook has launched a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening privacy protections across its platforms, while Zuckerberg himself has spoken out on regulation reform. In March Zuckerberg called for the governments around the world to implement more internet regulations to protect society from "broader harms", while in April the company said that it would set aside $3bn to cover the legal costs of an investigation from the FTC.

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