Is It Time to Break Up Facebook?

A decade and a half ago Chris Huges helped to create social media behemoth Facebook. Now he’s calling for the powerhouse he helped Mark Zuckerberg to assemble to be broken up by the government.

In an op-ed written in the New York Times titled “It’s Time to Break Up Facebook,” Hughes called for further government regulation of the very social media platform that he helped to launch.

Mark [Zuckerberg] is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. 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.

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(…) 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. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. 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.

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One would think social media should be the champions of free speech, rather than the enablers of the single-sided opinion and politics. Yes. Break them up.

In the brutally honest op-ed, Hughs contends that Zuckerberg’s influence must be diminished:

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.

It is time to break up Facebook.

Facebook of course disagrees.

As a free-market capitalist, it’s hard to agree with Hugh’s call to break up his Facebook. On the other hand, as someone who has spent too much time in Facebook jail for the high crime of “blogging while conservative” I will make an exception in this case.  By building a company that discriminates against people who disagree with Mark Zuckerberg’s politics, Facebook restricts the free exchange of ideas. Facebook is no longer a social media platform, by making editorial decisions, it is a publishing company.  Facebook is so big, and sadly there is no other place to go.

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