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Consumer Advocacy Groups Want Facebook Broken Up

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A group of progressive advocacy groups, including MoveOn and Demand Progress, is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to break up Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Dubbed Freedom From Facebook, the new effort is calling on people to sign a petition to have the FTC spin off Facebook properties – including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger – into standalone operations. The groups contend that by doing so, they will gain the ability to communicate across social networks while also having strong privacy rules in place to protect consumers.

"Most of us use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. They’re important ways for us to communicate and connect with each other. But Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have amassed a scary amount of power," wrote the groups on the Freedom From Facebook website. "Facebook unilaterally decides the news that billions of people around the world see every day. It buys up or bankrupts potential competitors to protect its monopoly, killing innovation and choice. It tracks us almost everywhere we go on the web and, through our smartphones, even where we go in the real world. It uses this intimate data hoard to figure out how to addict us and our children to its services. And then Facebook serves up everything about us to its true customers – virtually anyone willing to pay for the ability to convince us to buy, do or believe something."

The advocacy groups contend that Facebook is spending millions of dollars on corporate lobbyists, academics and think tanks so it can continue to pursue its mission. The groups have called on the five members of the FTC to break up Facebook in order to make it safe for democracy.

The move comes on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, in which the now-defunct political consulting firm accessed the information of 87 million Facebook users without their consent. That has prompted an outcry from privacy advocates, consumers and lawmakers, as well as a slew of investigations into Facebook practices and changes at the social media company. Zuckerberg even appeared before Congress to provide testimony about the breach.

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