Facebook co-founder speaks against Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Getty Images

On Zuckerberg: "Mark is a good, kind person", he writes, and in many ways the same guy Hughes would watch hugging his parents goodbye at Harvard, the same guy "who fell in love with his future wife while in line for the bathroom at a party". He said Zuckerberg is meeting with government leaders this week to work on developing such rules. "But I'm angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks", says Hughes.

Hughes is not alone in asking for the break-up of Facebook.

"And I'm anxious that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them", Hughes added.

In parts, the essay gets Orwell-style chilling.

In Hughes' view, Zuckerberg's level of control over speech is "unilateral", "problematic", "unprecedented" and "un-American".

"There is no precedent for [Zuckerberg's] ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people".

The piece runs more than 6,000 words.

Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, who had been at the company for 13 years and was one of Zuckerberg's closest lieutenants, stepped down in March around the same time Facebook announced a pivot towards more private messaging.

"We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be". But that "slap on the wrist" is not enough to check Facebook's risky and anticompetitive control over communication in the digital age, according to Hughes.

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Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes thrashed CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday and called on the federal government to break up enormous sections of the massive social media company. This week, two top senators urged the FTC to go beyond its expected $5 billion fine against Facebook for its privacy practices, calling for tough punishments and accountability measures.

"Imagine a competitive market in which they could choose among one network that offered higher privacy standards, another that cost a fee to join but had little advertising and another that would allow users to customize and tweak their feeds as they saw fit", Hughes writes.

It also approved its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, which Hughes said was the agency's "biggest mistake". Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet.

The government must hold Zuckerberg accountable, Hughes said.

Hughes also noted some privacy scandals that have trailed the social media company recently and its ongoing negotiation with the federal trade commission (FTC).

Facebook has been under fire for an ever-expanding list of privacy and security lapses and for endangering democracy by failing to effectively combat the proliferation of misinformation and hate speech by extremist groups.

"It's been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven't worked at the company in a decade", writes Hughes in a New York Times op-ed published May 9. "Its first mandate should be to protect privacy", he wrote, later adding: "Finally, the agency should create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media".

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of MA, for one, released a plan in March that would impose new rules on tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual ad revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to dramatically reduce their hold on online commerce.

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