Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes spoke out against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and called for the government to regulate the social media giant.
“The government must hold Mark accountable,” Hughes wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times published Thursday.
Hughes pointed out that Zuckerberg has immense power and influence, “far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.”
“He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares,” Hughes said.
“Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered.”
As Hughes explained, Zuckerberg is able to freely censor any content he wants by defining what’s “violent and incendiary speech.”
“He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.”
Hughes’ biggest concern about Facebook’s immense power is Zuckerberg’s control over speech.
“The most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power is Mark’s unilateral control over speech. There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people,” Hughes wrote.
Why is Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes saying it’s time to break up the company? He explains in this video op-ed. pic.twitter.com/mrAuP3QXzE
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) May 9, 2019
Hughes suggested a new government agency to address Zuckerberg’s control over speech. “We need a new agency, empowered by Congress to regulate tech companies,” Hughes said. “Its first mandate should be to protect privacy.”
Hughes also suggested that the new agency should set clear guidelines for what is “acceptable” speech on social media platforms.
The Facebook co-founder explained that “we already have limits on yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, child pornography, speech intended to provoke violence and false statements to manipulate stock prices.”
“We will have to create similar standards that tech companies can use. These standards should of course be subject to the review of the courts, just as any other limits on speech are,” Hughes wrote.
Obviously, there is reason is to be skeptical of the government setting the standards for speech, but some type of government agency might be a better alternative to big tech’s rampant censorship.
Instead of creating a government agency to set standards for “acceptable” speech, the government could ensure that constitutionally protected speech isn’t censored on social media platforms.
Either way, everyone should be able to recognize that Facebook has a censorship problem — even the company’s co-founder is speaking out against the platform.
Facebook has massive control over speech, and it’s time for the government to do something about it.
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