Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes isn’t just idly wondering if regulators might break up the tech behemoth he helped launch. He’s going on a personal tour, meeting with state and federal officials to lay out in detail the way he thinks it could be done.
Hughes has met with members of Congress, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, the Federal Trade Commission, and the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James to make a detailed case arguing Facebook is too big for its own good, according to separate reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times. The breakup tour went public in May, when Hughes penned a lengthy op-ed in The New York Times saying his former colleague Mark Zuckerberg wielded too much power. “I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders,” Hughes wrote at the time. “And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.”
Tech and antitrust law experts Scott Hemphill and Tim Wu had already been working on a detailed case against Facebook, and they reached out to Hughes following his public turn. The trio now work together to make their case.
They’re now arguing that Facebook’s “serial defensive acquisitions” are preventing competition. The article points out Facebook has acquired more than 75 smaller companies over the last 15 years, and cites one negotiator who told the Economist that “Big tech firms have been known to intimidate startups into agreeing to a sale…”