Facebook co-founder urges FTC to break up the company

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Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has joined the chorus of prominent voices calling for regulators to break up the social networking colossus. In a New York Times op-ed, he wrote that his college roommate and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had “unchecked power” and that his “influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.”

“Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks,” Hughes wrote. “There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.”

He called Zuckerberg’s dominion over speech the most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power. Zuckerberg holds 60 percent of Facebook voting shares, and effectively has full control over the company. However, the Federal Trade Commission may be exploring ways to make Zuckerberg personally accountable for his leadership of the business.

Hughes left Facebook in 2007 to work on Barack Obama’s election campaign, and liquidated his Facebook shares in 2012. Still, he feels “a sense of responsibility to account for the damage done.” He expressed contrition over Facebook’s role in shaping the public discourse, and his disappointment “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.”

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