Facebook has been around a lot longer than most people realize. Few of us actually remember that the social media platform is nearly two decades old. And in all of that time, Facebook and its CEO have grown quite a bit in terms of power and influence. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg has more influence than nearly anyone else in the private sector and even some parts of the government, thanks to his control over Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, which in total have millions and millions of users. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes believes that it is time for Facebook to be broken up and maybe even broken down. His reason? Facebook is apparently so massive and powerful that it threatens American democracy.
According to Hughes, Zuckerberg’s power is too great and too singular. He controls over sixty percent of Facebook’s voting shares. He controls every algorithm the site uses. He controls what language is considered inflammatory or unacceptable, what people see in their news feeds, or even what messages they receive. And if there is ever any competitor that could potentially compete with Facebook, he can easily buy it out or bury it under the massive influence Facebook possesses.
This all sounds very dramatic and dire, but there’s no denying that Facebook has presented some serious problems with its management in recent years; poor privacy policies revealed millions of user’s data to political firms, and the slow response to Russian agents wasn’t much better. Neither was the unmitigated drive to continue expanding its base of influence. For many of us, Facebook is just a website that we use to communicate with friends. But there’s no denying how massive of an effect it has had on society and even politics.
Chris Hughes also believes that Facebook needs to be broken up because it is a monopoly, and he isn’t wrong on that point. There are quite literally laws in place that are supposed to prevent monopolies in the American economy, yet those laws haven’t been upheld in regards to Facebook. As it stands, Mark Zuckerberg is well and truly the king of social media, with little in the way of competition or challenge. He can absolutely dictate the face of social media and whether or not anyone will ever be able to even stand against him within his own market. Just based on American law, Facebook needs to be broken down to shatter its monopoly on this particular market.
Hughes believes that, as long as Facebook is the sole mega power on the social media scene, people will have no choice but to accept all of its many failures and shortcomings. With no competition, there’s no one else people can turn to even if Facebook betrays their trust.
Does this necessarily mean Facebook and Zuckerberg are ‘threatening American democracy?’ Probably not, but the fact that Facebook is a superpower on the internet and the economy isn’t opinion. And unless someone does something about that, chances are the corporation will continue to grow its influence and scope until it actually is a problem.
Sources: NYtimes, The Wall Street Journal