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Calling Facebook “too powerful” co-founder Chris Hughes has called for Washington to break up the social media company.
Hughes helped create Facebook when he was a college roommate with Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard. He left the company over a decade ago but says he still feels a “sense of responsibility.”
In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Hughes writes, “The government must hold Mark accountable,” revealing of his former college roommate, “Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.”
“The Facebook that exists today is not the Facebook that we founded in 2004,” Hughes writes. “And the one that we have today I think is far too big. It’s far too powerful. And most importantly, its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is not accountable.”
“I’m disappointed 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. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.”
“I don’t think that Mark Zuckerberg can fix Facebook,” Hughes said. “I think only government can — by making the market more competitive, by breaking it up, and by creating these privacy restrictions.”
Hughes joins a growing number of politicians and privacy advocates calling on Washington to crack down on the power Facebook has. Hughes is calling on the government to reverse Facebook’s mergers with Instagram and WhatsApp and to define what qualifies as violent or hateful speech.
“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,” Hughes shared with the New York Times.