Once upon a time in Harvard, the college roommates Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, Andrew McCollum, and Eduardo Saverin co-founded Facebook. Fifteen years later, Chris Hughes wrote a lengthy op-ed piece for the New York Times calling the government to break up Facebook. What went wrong according to Hughes?
Although Hughes quit Facebook in 2007, he still felt a sense of anger and responsibility, said he in his Thursday's letter. He also pointed out how angry he is with his younger self because he did not predict how the News Feed algorithm could evolve in time and affect our society and empower nationalist politicians.
In his view, Mark Zuckerberg's ambitions to unlimited growth and power led him to "sacrifice security and civility for clicks." Chris also highlighted that the current Facebook management team does not question Zuckerberg's policy in that regard but reinforces it.
As a result, continued Hughes, Zuckerberg has gained "unchecked power" and influence that no one else in the government or the private sector currently possesses. Therefore, Chris Hughes urged the government to intervene and break up Facebook's monopoly.
Going further, Hughes also highlighted that the government should force Instagram and WhatsApp spin-off from Facebook. In Hughes' view, Washington should also establish a new agency to regulate tech giants.
Earlier last month Mark Zuckerberg said he was open for more regulation. However, Hughes did not believe that Zuckerberg can fix Facebook as his goal would be to "regulate" it in line with the company's best corporate interests and objectives:
"Zuckerberg has created a leviathan that crowds out entrepreneurship and restricts consumer choice. It's on our government to ensure that we never lose the magic of the invisible hand," Hughes writes.
Chris Hughes is not alone in asking for government intervention on Facebook. Earlier in March, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. said that, if elected president, she would call the government to exercise stricter control on tech platforms and to reverse the anti-competitive mergers. She called for the separation of Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook and the spin-off of the ad network DoubleClick from Google.
Facebook privacy issues have made it to the headlines on numerous occasions in the past years. In the biggest of them so far, Facebook was accused of inappropriately sharing users data of 87 million people with the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
The social media giant was also accused of being manipulated by Russian trolls to spread fake news and undermine democracy in the United States and Europe.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Chris Hughes statement for government intervention to break up Facebook?