Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes called for the social media giant to be broken up over what he deemed was a chronic case of misguided focus which he attributes to the company’s other co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
In a lengthy op-ed published by the New York Times, the entrepreneur who hasn’t worked at Facebook in over a decade said he still feels responsible for the monster that the platform now arguably became, concluding it’s high time someone puts an end to its unchecked growth and splits it into more manageable pieces. Mr. Hughes was made it a point to highlight how he believes Mr. Zuckerberg with whom he launched the social media platform from a Harvard dorm room 15 years ago has good intentions, yet is but one human being and no single soul can be realistically expected to manage the conglomerate of this size while still keeping tabs on the well-being of society as a whole.
Despite insisting he personally doesn’t have a negative opinion of Facebook, Mr. Hughes characterized Facebook’s head as a growth-obsessed suit who sacrificed the very notion of online privacy and security in his pursuit of profits. While CEOs, both in the tech segment and otherwise, are usually kept in check by their boards of directors, that’s not true in this case as the 34-year-old controls about 60-percent of the firm’s voting shares, meaning he alone has the power to make any single decision at the firm, even though his credentials are suspect at best in many fields, not to mention his track record.
Since the last time Facebook’s two co-founders met in 2017, the Menlo Park, California-based Internet giant ended up being invovled in some of the largest privacy scandals in the history of online services, including the Cambridge Analytica debacle which suggested the firm played a palpable role in a Russian misinformation effort aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in the United States in favor of its eventual winner. Mr. Hughes wrote he’s angry at both himself and the rest of Facebook’s early core for not anticipating scenarios wherein the service is abused for malicious purposes such as meddling with a country’s democratic process.
While the damage has already been done, not breaking Facebook apart is guaranteed to make matters worse in the long run, the Harvard alumni believes. He hence called for the U.S. government to hold the company and Mr. Zuckerberg personally accountable for any large-scale misuses of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, services being used by billions of people on a daily basis. The appeal bears some resemblacne with a separate effort a small number of Alphabet investors initiated earlier this month, calling for one of the world’s largest corporations and Google’s parent company to be broken apart.
And while those activist investors say they fear Alphabet may eventually start colluding with dictators, Mr. Hughes doesn’t harbor such a degree of pessimism toward Facebook, though he still believes that leaving the firm as-is would be detrimental to society as a whole in the long run.