by Chris White
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes thrashed CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday and called on the federal government to break up enormous sections of the massive social media company.
“The most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power is Mark’s unilateral control over speech,” Hughes wrote in a New York Times editorial. The company is “far too big and far too powerful,” he explained, noting that Zuckerberg often used to talk about dominating other social media competitors.
“There’s no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people,” Hughes wrote of his former college roommate, noting later: “Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American.” Hughes, who helped create Facebook’s now-famous News Feed, left the company in 2007 and sold all of his shares in 2012, a decision that netted him half a billion dollars.
Hughes offered several controversial ideas to help break up the empire he helped build, such as requiring the Federal Trade Commission to reverse mergers with Instagram and WhatsApp, which he claims the agency “incorrectly approved.” He also wants Congress to create a new agency to regulate technology in addition to the FTC.
“The agency should create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media,” Hughes said of one possible action. “This idea may seem un-American — we would never stand for a government agency censoring speech. But we already have limits on yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, child pornography, speech intended to provoke violence and false statements to manipulate stock prices.”
Conservatives and liberals are considering ways to hold Facebook and other big tech companies responsible for what many activists believe is an inability to protect users’ privacy data. Lawmakers are also warming to the idea of breaking up Facebook, Amazon and other Silicon Valley titans.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, for one, released a plan in March that would impose new rules on tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual ad revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to dramatically reduce their hold on online commerce. Warren, a Democrat, is running for president in 2020 along with a handful of other Democrats who are also hoping to knock big tech down to size.
Republicans are also getting in on the act. One of the best ways to ding Facebook is to make the company responsible for the content users post, according to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He suggested amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act while grilling Zuckerberg in 2018. Section 230 protects major social media operators from being held responsible for what users post.
Facebook has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about Hughes’ calls for a major breakup.
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Chris White is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Chris on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo “Chris Hughes” by Michael Conti. CC BY-SA 4.0. Background Photo “Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg” by Anthony Quintano. CC BY 2.0.