Facebook co-founder says tech giant should be broken up

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has declared Mark Zuckerberg’s “power is unprecedented and un-American” and has called for the social media giant to be broken up.

Mr Hughes said the US government needed to hold Mr Zuckerberg accountable following a series of scandals which have raised questions about the platform’s role in society.

He said politicians had played into Mr Zuckerberg’s hands last year when he was questioned by both houses of the US Congress, and they appeared as if they didn’t understand technology.

Mark Zuckerberg appears before Congress
In full: Zuckerberg’s opening statement to Congress

“That’s the impression Mark wanted Americans to have, because it means little will change,” Mr Hughes said.

He said that although he hadn’t “worked at the company in a decade” he felt “a sense of anger and responsibility” about the damage being caused by Facebook.

He described Facebook’s “sloppy privacy practices” and “slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news” as well as its “unbounded drive” to capture its user’s time and attention.

Despite the announcement from Facebook that it was launching a new privacy push, telling businesses during its annual developers’ conference they will be getting less access to users’ data, Mr Hughes said the company was a monopoly and needed to be broken up.

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Mr Hughes, who is a member of the Democratic Party in the US, said that breaking up Facebook would be possible – and suggested there was political support for the idea.

Chris Hughes
Image: Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has called for the company to be broken up

He noted Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has announced her candidacy for president, has called for a reversing of a series of mergers which Facebook had undergone to grow to its current size.

He suggested: “Facebook would have a brief period to spin off the Instagram and WhatsApp businesses, and the three would become distinct companies, most likely publicly traded.

“Facebook shareholders would initially hold stock in the new companies, although Mark and other executives would probably be required to divest their management shares.”

Forcing the company to be broken up would cost “next to zero for the government” he argued, claiming “lots of people stand to gain economically” from the move.

Facebook’s shareholders would benefit in the same way that monopolistic companies which had previously been split up including Standard Oil and AT&T had benefited their shareholders.

“But the biggest winners would be the American people,” he added.

And such a break-up would almost exclusively be driven by the US government.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, told Sky News her team was not looking at opening a competition investigation into Facebook.

Source: SKY NEWS

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