WASHINGTON — Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes on Thursday called for the world’s largest social media company to be split in three and said CEO Mark Zuckerberg should be held responsible for privacy lapses.
Some U.S. lawmakers also have urged antitrust action to break up big tech companies as well as pushing for federal privacy regulation.
Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators around the world over its data-sharing practices and hate speech and misinformation on its networks.
“We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American,” Hughes wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times on Thursday.
Facebook’s social network has more than two billion users across the world. It also owns WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, each used by more than one billion people.
Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.
“The government must hold Mark accountable. For too long, lawmakers have marveled at Facebook’s explosive growth and overlooked their responsibility to ensure that Americans are protected and markets are competitive,” he said.
Facebook rejected Hughes’ call for WhatsApp and Instagram to be made into separate companies.
“Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the break up of a successful American company,” said Facebook spokesman Nick Clegg in a statement.
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“Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through the painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet. That is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg has called for.”
Hughes, who is a former roommate of Zuckerberg, left Facebook in 2007. He co-founded Facebook in 2004 at Harvard with the company’s now-CEO Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter Thursday that, “Today’s big tech companies have too much power — over our economy, our society, & our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private info for profit, hurt small businesses & stifled innovation. It’s time to #BreakUpBigTech.”