Facebook co-founder calls on the government to break up the company

Chris Hughes, who helped co-found Facebook, said the tech giant has become too powerful and called on Congress to create a federal agency to conduct oversight of the company

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The loading screen of the Facebook app
Facebook auto-generates videos of extremist images

Facebook co-founder in a New York Times editorial today said the social networking giant has become a corporate monopoly with too much power and said the federal government needs to step in and break up the company.

The very long and pointed criticism from Chris Hughes, who left the company in 2007 and no longer owns stock, makes him the most high-profile Facebook veteran to call attention to the shortcomings of the company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“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 writes. “It is time to break up Facebook.”

Hughes’s calls come as the social giant faces yet another controversy after an AP investigation revealed that the platform automatically generates videos and pages that elevate extremist groups.

Hughes proposed breaking up Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp into separate companies, unwinding mergers he argues the Federal Trade Commission should never have allowed. They should also be banned from making additional acquisitions for several years, he adds, writing that the company has often stifled competitors by buying them or copying their ideas.

“Facebook’s dominance is not an accident of history,” Hughes writes. “The company’s strategy was to beat every competitor in plain view, and regulators and the government tacitly — and at times explicitly — approved.”

He also calls for Congress to establish a new federal agency charged with protecting consumers’ privacy online and establishing guidelines for “acceptable speech” on social media. Zuckerberg’s control over speech is “the most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power,” he writes.

Facebook did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

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