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A Facebook founder warns of Zuckerberg's 'near-unilateral power'

May 13 2019 05:30
Ben Bain, Bloomberg

Days after calling on the US government to break up Facebook, one of the company’s co-founders amplified his concerns over the level of Mark Zuckerberg’s sway across the social media empire and its billions of users.

“Zuckerberg has too much power - near-unilateral power,” Chris Hughes, 35, who started Facebook with Zuckerberg when they were students at Harvard University, said in an interview to air Sunday on CNN’s “ Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

“We all make mistakes, but I think that in his case it is different because there is no accountability for those mistakes,” Hughes said, according to a transcript provided by CNN.

Hughes thrust himself into the center of a debate over how Washington should regulate the social media giant when he penned a May 9 op-ed in the New York Times calling Facebook a monopoly that never should have been allowed to buy Instagram and WhatsApp.

Many observers already expect the Federal Trade Commission to slap the company with a fine of as much as $5bn as part of a settlement over revelations that it let Cambridge Analytica obtain data on millions of Facebook users without consent.

But during his interview with CNN, Hughes said the company’s issues run far deeper than any one scandal. The problems, he said, stem in part from a lack of accountability for Zuckerberg and a board that’s generally unable to check the billionaire chairman and chief executive.

“Mark’s the CEO, there is a board but because he owns 60 percent of the voting shares he’s not accountable really to that board,” said Hughes, who’s now co-chair of the Economic Security Project, a group focused on anti-poverty programs. “It works more like a board of advisers than anything else.”

A Facebook spokeswoman decline to comment on Hughes’s latest remarks.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg said in a TV interview on Friday, after meeting with France President Emmanuel Macron, that his company would work with governments to determine what content is acceptable on social-media networks. Critics in Europe as well as the U.S. have blasted Menlo Park, California-based Facebook over how it handles personal data and hate speech.

Hughes told CNN he hasn’t spoken to Zuckerberg since his New York Times piece was published. “I doubt that I will,” he said.

facebook  |  mark zuckeberg  |  social media


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