A Facebook cofounder says that Mark Zuckerberg's power is 'unprecedented and un-American'
- Chris Hughes, one of Facebook's original cofounders, called Mark Zuckerberg's power "unprecedented and un-American" in a scathing op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday.
- Hughes, who was Zuckerberg's roommate at Harvard, argued Zuckerberg's social media empire should be broken up into separate public companies, and that Zuckerberg himself wields too much power.
- Several American political officials, including US Senator Elizabeth Warren, publicly supported Hughes' call to break up Facebook.
- Facebook issued a statement reiterating its commitment to working with federal officials on oversight regulation.
- For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.
Chris Hughes, one of Facebook's original founders, publicly called for his co-creation to be broken up in a scathing New York Times op-ed on Thursday.
Hughes, who cofounded the social media giant with Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, called Zuckerberg's power "unprecedented and un-American," and said Facebook has turned into a dangerous monopoly. Hughes writes that he realised the extent of the damage in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018.
America, Hughes argues, has always been opposed to monopolies but has forgotten about the danger autocracy poses to democracy. Zuckerberg's power, he says, resembles that of oil or transportation barons of the 19th Century, and should be reigned in.
"Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power," Hughes wrote. "The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook's monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people."
Hughes' call for government intervention has not fallen on deaf ears. As of Thursday afternoon, American Senator Elizabeth Warren was among the US political officials publicly supporting Hughes' call to break up Facebook.
"Chris Hughes is right. Today's big tech companies have too much power-over our economy, our society, & our democracy," Warren tweeted Thursday morning. "They've bulldozed competition, used our private info for profit, hurt small businesses & stifled innovation. It's time to #BreakUpBigTech."
'An exhausting pattern'
"Every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation," he said.
Breaking them up would increase competition, and put more pressure on the company to do better in the future, in an outcome that he argues would be better for America.
"The biggest winners would be the American people. Imagine a competitive market in which they could choose among one network that offered higher privacy standards, another that cost a fee to join but had little advertising, and another that would allow users to customize and tweak their feeds as they saw fit."
Amid the uproar, Facebook's vice president of global affairs and communication Nick Clegg issued a statement to CNN reiterating Zuckerberg's commitment to working with federal officials on oversight regulation.
"Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don't enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company," Clegg wrote. "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. Indeed, he is meeting government leaders this week to further that work."
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