In an opinion piece for The New York Times Chris Hughes, the co – founder of Facebook has called for scandal – plagued the social media and data theft behemoth to be broken up and lambasted the “staggering” and “unchecked” power of his former friend and co – founder, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a lengthy and searing critique of Zuckerberg’s amoral, and often illegal behaviour at the helm of the social media corporation.
Hughes co-founded Facebook with Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 and watched “in awe” as the company grew over the last 15 years — but said he now feels a “sense of anger and responsibility” about how all-powerful and out-of-control the social media giant has become under the management of the increasingly power – crazed CEO.
Lashing out at the company, Hughes wrote in the NYT piece that Zuckerberg’s power and influence goes “far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.” People may think that is sour grapes, but Hughes has no reason to be bitter, his time at Facebook made him a fortune estimated in the region of $500 million and he left of his own volition, having been quoted as saying, “ “Working with Mark is very challenging,” says Hughes. “You’re never sure if what you’re doing is something he likes or he doesn’t like. It’s so much better to be friends with Mark than to work with him.”
He has also said he thinks more of Zuckerberg’s friends who were involved in the creation of Facebook, most of whom he’s still in touch with, have left Zuckerberg’s empire in part because, like him, they got fed up with the CEO’s unpredictable and megalomaniacal behaviour.
Mark Zuckerberg on ethics (Picture via Sott.net)
“Working with Mark is very challenging,” says Hughes. “You’re never sure if what you’re doing is something he likes or he doesn’t like. It’s so much better to be friends with Mark than to work with him.”
In the article Hughes criticizes Facebook over “sloppy privacy practices,” “violent rhetoric and fake news,” and the “unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention.” “It’s not that Zuckerberg is a bad person,” he writes, but “he’s human” and his focus on growth has “led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.”
There are many who would argue with the statement that Zuckerberg is human, given his robotic performances in front of members of the US Congress, UK Parliament and European Union regulators, biologically he may appear human but there is something misssing in his make up that renders him unable to understand why people might object to his company sharing users’ illegally obtained personal data with any organisation willing to pay for it.
Hughes also bemoans the fact that the obsessive workaholic Zuckerberg controls three core communications platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) and says that lack of competition, market or government regulation is a major problem. If a competitor crops up, Zuckerberg can simply choose to shut it down “by acquiring, blocking or copying it” in the manner it did with the Instagram and WhatsApp mergers. “There is no precedent for [Zuckerberg’s] ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.” Hughes warns.
It does not stop there, the article also reveals that Zuckerberg 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.
Hughes also worries that Zuckerberg has “surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.” He believes that neither Facebook’s offer to appoint a “privacy czar” or the expected Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fine of $5 billion will be enough to rein in the corporate tyrant who heads Facebook.
The answer lies in more government regulation of technology companies’ activities and increased market competition through breaking up Zuckerberg’s empire into separate, competing organisations Hughes says. The lack of competition means that “every time Facebook messes up, we repeat an exhausting pattern: first outrage, then disappointment and, finally, resignation.”