Report: Facebook co-founder aids FTC in probe
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is reportedly helping regulators as they investigate whether the social media behemoth should be broken up for violating antitrust rules.
According to reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post, Hughes has met with the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies which are all interested in examining Facebook’s market power. He is said to be working with antitrust academics Scott Hemphill from New York University and Tim Wu of Columbia University.
During the meetings with regulators, which Hughes attends alone, the former Facebook exec presented a 39-page slide deck outlining reasons why the social network should be broken up, reports the Times, including the fact that the company made “serial defensive acquisitions” to stomp out competition.
This comes just months after the entrepreneur called the power of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “unprecedented and un-American” in an opinion piece published by the Times.
Hughes left the company more than a decade ago, but his insight could still be valuable for those who say Facebook is a competition-crushing monopoly.
I’m calling for breaking up @Facebook in an essay in the @nytimes. FB has become too big and too powerful, and it’s part of a trend in our economy of an increasing concentration of corporate power. We can fix this: break the company up and regulate it. https://t.co/34rITPfvJ9— Chris Hughes (@chrishughes) May 9, 2019
The 35-year-old entrepreneur, who has publicly advocated for breaking up Facebook for a while, previously called out the company for becoming “too powerful” after acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.
Wu called the acquisitions a “plain-vanilla violation of antitrust law, just low-hanging fruit,” according to the Washington Post.
Gene Kimmelman, a senior adviser at the consumer group Public Knowledge, told the Times that a successful case against Facebook would have to demonstrate that economic harm was done as well as prove that the company intentionally bought competitors.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, Facebook separately announced that it was settling a record-breaking $5 billion fine with the FTC for violating consumer’ privacy rights.