One of Facebook's co-founders is calling for the company to be broken up, expressing alarm over CEO Mark Zuckerberg's "unchecked power."
Chris Hughes, who left Facebook in 2007, in an op-ed for The New York Times on Thursday writes that Zuckerberg has a "staggering" amount of influence that is both "unprecedented and un-American" and that his "focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks." Zuckerberg has also created a "leviathan that crowds out entrepreneurship and restricts consumer choice," Hughes writes, leaving users with no meaningful alternatives even if they want to leave the platform in the wake of the company's privacy scandals.
For that reason, Hughes calls for the government to take action. Zuckerberg himself has backed more government regulation of Facebook, but Hughes suggests that this is just an "attempt to head off the argument that regulators need to go further and break up the company," which is exactly what Hughes calls for. He argues that Facebook must be separated into multiple companies, with WhatsApp and Instagram becoming separate entities again.
Additionally, he calls for a new government agency that would protect privacy and create "guidelines for acceptable speech on social media." Hughes suggests that the alternative is "bleak," writing that he was awakened to the "dangers of Facebook’s monopoly" in light of the 2016 presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica scandal."
Hughes' op-ed comes after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, called for major tech companies like Facebook to be broken up, which would include the WhatsApp and Instagram mergers being undone. This proposal is cited by Hughes as one piece of evidence that "an era of accountability for Facebook and other monopolies may be beginning." Read the full op-ed at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow
Thirty accounts have been removed from Facebook and 85 have been removed from Instagram for suspicious, coordinated activity in French, English, and Russian, Facebook announced in a blog post. Law enforcement agencies warned Facebook on Sunday about the possible activity by foreign actors seeking to influence Tuesday's midterm elections. Some of the posts concerned celebrities. Others focused on politics.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said in the blog post that Facebook typically waits until it knows more before making such announcements, but it "wanted to let people know" because it was the eve of the midterms. It was not immediately clear who was behind the activity, but federal law enforcement officials said "foreign actors," particularly Russia, continue to try to influence the public as they did in 2016, USA Today reports. Harold Maass