It is time to break up Facebook: Company's Co-founder

Last Updated: Fri, May 10, 2019 10:50 hrs
The Facebook logo is displayed on their website in an illustration photo taken in Bordeaux

New York: It is time to break up Facebook -- mired in several data scandals and privacy violation cases -- as Mark Zuckerberg has yielded "unchecked power" and influence "far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government", the social network giant's Co-founder Chris Hughes has stressed.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times on Thursday, Hughes said the government must hold Mark (Zuckerberg) accountable.

"Mark's personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive.

"The company's mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users' data into a political consulting firm's lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines," wrote Hughes who, during his freshman year at Harvard University in 2002, was recruited by Zuckerberg for Facebook.

"Mark is a good, kind person. But I'm angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks," Hughes argued.

"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," Hughes added.

Embroiled in users' data scandals, Facebook is set to create new privacy positions within the company that would include a committee, and external evaluator and a chief compliance officer, an NYT report said earlier this month.

Facebook has already kept aside $3 billion, anticipating a record fine coming from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that involved 87 million users.

"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," added Hughes who currently works as Co-chairman of the Economic Security Project and senior adviser at the Roosevelt Institute.

Realising his mistakes, Zuckerberg has said gaining users' trust is now his top agenda.

"I know we don't exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now. I am committed to doing this well. "This is a fundamental shift in how we build products and run our company," the Facebook CEO said this month.

The Facebook case is being looked at as a measure of the Donald Trump administration's willingness to regulate US tech companies.