May 9, 2019

Facebook cofounder calls for its breakup

Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes at Harvard, less than a year after launching Facebook from their dorm room in 2004. Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes called for the tech giant's breakup in a N.Y. Times op-ed on Thursday, saying that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is "human. But it’s his very humanity that makes his unchecked power so problematic."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva: Hughes isn’t the first Facebook co-founder to express guilt and concern over the company’s influence years after making riches from it — fortunes he barely acknowledges at the end of his op-ed. But his criticism is uniquely directed at Zuckerberg and his concentrated power.

Where he stands: "I liquidated my Facebook shares in 2012, and I don’t invest directly in any social media companies." Hughes was worth $430 million at the end of 2016, according to the latest data from Forbes.

What Hughes is saying:

  • "Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day."
  • "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."
  • "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."

Go deeper: Facebook and Instagram ban "dangerous" extremist personalities

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