Mark Zuckerberg has become too powerful and must be stopped, according to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.
Writing in The New York Times on Thursday, Chris Hughes referred to Facebook as “dangerous” and said that it must be subjected to government regulation.
“We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be,” Hughes wrote, according to HuffPost. “Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American. It is time to break up Facebook.”
Hughes does not necessarily hit Facebook for cracking down on speech, such as the recent deplatforming of Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan, and instead hits at the company’s seemingly monopolistic empire. He takes serious issue with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allowing Facebook to acquire Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, thereby sealing the company’s hegemony in the social media sphere.
“Mark is a good, kind person,” Hughes wrote. “But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.”
“I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them,” he added. “Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer.”
Hughes also accuses Facebook of quashing competition by copying innovations, such as Snapchat — thus creating an echo chamber where almost no major social media company can emerge to compete. The solution, according to Hughes, is to have the government break up Facebook into multiple companies by enforcing antitrust laws and dismantling the acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Because Facebook so dominates social networking, it faces no market-based accountability,” Hughes wrote. “This means that every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation.”
Following that, Hughes says that a new regulatory agency must be created to focus on other companies with an emphasis on protecting people’s privacy. He also urges Congress to pass a new privacy bill that would “specify exactly what control Americans have over their digital information, require clearer disclosure to users and provide enough flexibility to the agency to exercise effective oversight over time.”
“This idea may seem un-American — we would never stand for a government agency censoring speech,” Hughes wrote. “But there is no constitutional right to harass others or live-stream violence.”
Hughes finishes on a more philosophical note, focusing less on Facebook’s business practices and more on how the company has completely changed social communication — for the worse, in his view. He notes how the site is designed to keep people scrolling, constantly searching for an image more beautiful than the next.
“Some days, lying on the floor next to my 1-year-old son as he plays with his dinosaurs, I catch myself scrolling through Instagram, waiting to see if the next image will be more beautiful than the last,” he wrote. “What am I doing? I know it’s not good for me, or for my son, and yet I do it anyway.”
“We pay for Facebook with our data and our attention, and by either measure it doesn’t come cheap,” he said.