Tuesday 21 May 2019

Co-founder wants 'too big' Facebook to be broken up

Pioneer in tech: Mark Zuckerberg’s former roommate Chris Hughes said he made $500m in three years. Photo: Bloomberg
Pioneer in tech: Mark Zuckerberg’s former roommate Chris Hughes said he made $500m in three years. Photo: Bloomberg

Supantha Mukherjee

FACEBOOK co-founder and former Mark Zuckerberg roommate Chris Hughes has called for the break-up of the world's largest social media network in an opinion piece in 'The New York Times'.

Mr Hughes joins US politicians who have also urged anti-trust action to break up big tech companies as well as federal privacy regulation.

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Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators over its data-sharing practices and hate speech and misinformation on its networks.

"We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark's power is unprecedented and un-American," Mr Hughes wrote.

Facebook's social network has more than 2 billion users across the world. It also owns WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, each used by more than 1 billion people.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

Last March, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, vowed to break up Facebook, Amazon and Google if elected US president, to promote competition in the tech sector.

"Today's big tech companies have too much power - over our economy, our society, & our democracy. They've bulldozed competition, used our private info for profit, hurt small businesses & stifled innovation. It's time to #BreakUpBigTech," Ms Warren said on Twitter yesterday.

US President Donald Trump has called for the creation of "more, and fairer" social media firms in response to discrimination he alleges he has faced as a Republican from Twitter.

Chris Hughes co-founded Facebook in 2004 at Harvard with the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Dustin Moskovitz. He quit Facebook in 2007 and later said in a LinkedIn post that he made $500m dollars for his three years of work.

"It's been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven't worked at the company in a decade.

"But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility," said Mr Hughes, who later was an online strategist for Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, said in a statement that he agreed that in retrospect that US regulators "should not have approved Facebook's acquisition of Instagram & WhatsApp in 2012".

He said "the way forward is to heavily scrutinise future mergers and to ensure no company has anti-competitive platform privileges." Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Irish Independent

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