Zuckerberg's Old Dormmate Issues a Call to Action

Zuckerberg's Old Dormmate Issues a Call to Action

In a lengthy opinion piece published Thursday by the New York Times, Hughes says that Zuckerberg has "unchecked power" and influence "far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government". "But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility", said Hughes, who later was an online strategist for Barack Obama during the 2008 USA presidential campaign. Despite its myriad scandals - Russian propagandists exploiting the platform to spread misinformation and sway US elections, the sharing of millions of users' personal data with the political data firm Cambridge Analytica and companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix - Facebook's reach continues to grow.

USA lawmakers who have advocated a Facebook breakup in the past quickly echoed Hughes's sentiment.

Hughes is the latest in a series of prominent entrepreneurs and tech executives to call for stricter regulation of Facebook and other online platforms.

"Imagine a competitive market in which they could choose among one network that offered higher privacy standards, another that cost a fee to join but had little advertising and another that would allow users to customize and tweak their feeds as they saw fit", Hughes writes.

Another major social networking platform hasn't been founded since 2011, and despite the movements like #deleteFacebook, it's nearly impossible to avoid, with many people eschewing the core platform in favor of Instagram or WhatsApp, not realizing they are Facebook subsidiaries.

Facebook has been plagued by scandal over the past year.

"Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability", Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg said in response to the piece.

The lack of competition means that "every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation".

In Hughes' view, Zuckerberg's level of control over speech is "unilateral", "problematic", "unprecedented" and "un-American". Zuckerberg can not be dismissed, so he has total control of the company.

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As a result of all this, would-be competitors can't raise the money to take on Facebook.

Saying he still believed that Zuckerberg was a "good, kind person", Hughes argued that the billionaire's incessant "focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks", going on to cite numerous privacy scandals, data leaks, and the alleged manipulation of speech engaged in by the company.

Hughes also proposed a new government agency to protect privacy.

Facebook pushed back on Hughes' assertions, arguing that regulation, not a breakup, would address the concerns of company critics.

Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reacts as he speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle have made a case for federal intervention with Facebook. Sen. (AMZN) and Alphabet Inc.'s Google (GOOG) if elected US president to promote competition in the tech sector.

Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, said in April that the was considering legislation that would focus on data portability, so users of one social media could take their information from one site to another.

This week, two top senators urged the FTC to go beyond its expected $5 billion fine against Facebook for its privacy practices, calling for tough punishments and accountability measures.

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