Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, who left the social media company in 2007, is making moves in Washington to regulate big tech.
“I hope that my speaking out provides cover to a lot of other folks, whether former employees or current ones, to express ambivalence or concern about what’s going on,” Hughes told The Washington Post on Thursday. “And I think there’s a lot to be concerned about.”
Hughes, who cashed out on his stock of nearly $500 million in May, has been making the rounds in Washington in recent weeks to discuss Facebook’s power with lawmakers, regulators, Justice Department officials and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC announced a new antitrust investigation into Facebook on Wednesday as part of a broader antitrust review of big tech companies — specifically “market-leading online platforms” — announced Tuesday by the DOJ. The FTC’s new investigation came on the same day the social media giant paid a $5 billion settlement to the Commission for violating privacy policies.
In some meetings, Hughes and his collaborators presented officials with a 39-page slideshow that makes the legal case for breaking up tech giants quickly developing into monopolies, citing years of antitrust patterns, The Post reported.
Facebook has amassed more than 2.7 billion monthly users, including on Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Mr. Hughes’s involvement stands out because few founders have gone on to argue for the dismantling of their company,” New York Times technology and economics reporter Steven Lohr said.
Hughes wrote an op-ed for the NYT in May making the case to break up Facebook and explaining that while he has not worked for the company in over a decade, he still feels “a sense of anger and responsibility” for “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.”
“The government must hold [Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg] accountable,” he wrote.
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