Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is working to break it up

Hughes is working with a group of academics to tackle Facebook's monopoly.

Former Harvard dorm room friend of Mark Zuckerberg who helped create Facebook now wants the platform broken up. Chris Hughes is now working with a group of academics to smash the Facebook “monopoly.”

Currently, Hughes is teaming up with two major antitrust academics – Scott Hemphill from New York University and Tim Wu from Columbia University. So far, the group has conducted meetings with the US Trade Commission, the US Justice Department, and State Attorneys.

An antitrust academic is someone who formulates government policy to regulate or stop monopolies in the market. This is so free competition is enforced in the economy so everyone in society benefits as a whole.

The group is armed with a 39-page presentation that makes a detailed legal case for dismantling Facebook. The presentation mostly draws its arguments from numerous years of antitrust law precedent.

Academics Hemphill and Wu for a long time now have argued that Facebook makes acquisitions of companies to protect their dominant position in the Social Network space. They call these purchases “serial defensive acquisitions.” These acquisitions include Instagram and WhatsApp. Due to these acquisitions, Facebook can now charge advertisers high prices and won’t get punished in the market for creating a poor user experience.

Chris Hughes working with these academics to dismantle Facebook is a big deal. Not many of those who worked to create Facebook have spoken out about breaking up the platform.

The presentation by the group has come just days after Facebook announced that the Federal Trade Commission has commenced an antitrust investigation into the social network. The US Federal Trade Commission primary job is to promote the rights of consumer protection and stop “anti-competitive business practices, such as a coercive monopoly.”

The exact role that Chris Hughes plays with these antitrust academics is still unclear. Hughes resigned from Facebook around 10 years ago. It is only in recent times he has become critical of the tech platform in the public sphere.

In the 39-page slide presentation, a “Who We Are” page names Hughes as the third member of the group. The page ends with the words – “Speaking only for ourselves, not a client.”

Nicholas Becker
Nicholas Becker contributes and reports on politically-focussed features and news for Reclaim and is an advocate for online privacy from Hobart, Australia. [email protected]