Facebook has responded to Co-founder Chris Hughes’ New York Times op-ed piece written on Thursday (May 9) calling for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to break it up, according to a report by Reuters.
The social media giant rejected the idea that WhatsApp and Instagram, two Facebook acquisitions, should be broken into separate companies.
“Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company,” Facebook spokesman Nick Clegg said in a statement. “Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through the painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet. That is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg has called for.”
Hughes said it’s time for the government to hold Zuckerberg accountable, arguing that an impending $5 billion fine by the FTC isn’t enough punishment for the company, nor is the idea of appointing a privacy executive to oversee how it handles data. According to media reports, as part of the FTC settlement, Facebook would be required to hire executives to implement privacy policies and create an independent board to assess whether it is practicing those policies.
“Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government,” wrote Hughes, who co-founded Facebook with Zuckerberg at Harvard 15 years ago but has not worked at the social media firm for a decade. “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.”
Facebook has also been under pressure from lawmakers, including Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Today’s big tech companies have too much power – over our economy, our society and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private info for profit, hurt small businesses and stifled innovation. It’s time to #BreakUpBigTech,” Warren said on Twitter in March.