Facebook co-founder: Time to break up the social network
Chris Hughes is with us.
Thanks for having me.
On American, that's pretty tiugh.
I think so.
I think we have a long tradition in America of holding power accountable.
I mean, after our constitution is built on checks and balances.
And sometimes, folks in the private sector who are CEOs of companies just get too big.
So, just like we've done with Standard Oil.
We say this is a monopoly.
The market is broken.
There is no competition and there is no accountability, and the government needs to step in and break it up.
Right, your point is, there should be a check on this power.
But why you have to breakup Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp?
Why break it up?
Cuz I think most Americans know that the best way to hold a company accountable is Competition.
What keeps happening now is, there's another privacy scandal, or another election scandal seemingly every week, at least every month.
And then people get outraged, they get so angry.
They say, I'm leaving Facebook, I'm going to Instagram, not realizing that Instagram is owned by Facebook.
And then they become resigned to the fact that we can't do anything.
So we can't vote with our feet We can't vote with our eyeballs and so-
Why can't we?
We need government to step in.
Where would you go?
I would go to my book, or I would go to my walk outside, or I would go to my friend on the telephone.
Listen, I think most Americans would love to say I don't really need social media.
But, that's like saying I don't really need my iPhone, or I don't really need email-
Well, you can get a Samsung.
Technically, you can
Well exactly there is competition, you can to Samsung with Facebook.
There is really no where else to go, Facebook has 85% of the revenue in the social network or you gonna go to LinkedIn ->> But i guess you're saving Americans from themselves, is potentially what you're saying.
I don't think that's quite right, I think Americans want a competitve network where they have options otherwise There's gonna be scandal after scandal.
And we need competition.
Adam Smith was the first to say markets are productive, they're innovative, when there are players that are vying for it.
And this is what it was like in the early days of Facebook.
After we started it, there was MySpace.
There was Friendster, LiveJournal, Tumblr, we can go through a long list.
And that made us better.
It meant that we had to develop features, keep the site secure, think about where else users can go, and that competition-
[CROSSTALK] You make a point of saying Mark is a good, kind person, and then you go on to slam the company.
But yet you don't believe that there's something nefarious going on in Facebook, or do you?
No, I don't.
I stay in the peace, and I feel that Mark is a good kind of person.
We've been friends for 15, 16 years at this point.
Other Facebook employees, former Facebook employees, are also speaking up, too.
You're not a lone voice out there.
Yeah, there are a good number, particularly of folks in the early day.
Cuz I think all feel Some sense of responsibility, because we were part of the early days of Facebook.
I mean, I will be the first to say I helped create News Feed.
My name is on the patent, and News Feed, I think, in many instances, has lead to Major problems, I mean I think it helped rise of nationalist leaders, fake news.
The argument is that there was an original sin, which is that grabbing attention, and prioritizing attention over all these other values, was embedded in it's original design.
But this is the just late flowering of something that was there in the beginning.
Listen, I think you're right to say that all these apps were built to attract more and more attention, and I don't know if I would say that's an original sin, but it's definitely a trade off, which has I think been pushed too far now.
Because now Americans are paying For these services with their data and with their attention.
An hour a day, on average for Facebook, 53 minutes for Instagram, and again I don't think that that will be necessarily a problem if there was an alternative where you could go and pay to not have your data collected, or pay to not have advertisements, but we have no competition.
Your plan is there's no market accountability, it is a monopoly and that's why you're saying that the government has to come in Do you think law makers actually have the tech savvy or understanding in order to do this?
I think some do, and there's a growing movement of them.
Last year, in Mark's testimony, I think unfortunately a lot of people came away with the narrative that-
Mark had it together, the government.
There are quite a number of folks who are anything but clueless in the government.
And it's Elizabeth Warren, yes, but it's also people like Ted Cruz.
David Cicilline is a Congressman in the house.
There is leadership coming out of the woodwork and I will say not just on Facebook but on monopolies in general.
Three quarters of American industries have become more concentrated and I think there's accountability coming.
And just real quickly, you say that you're worried that Mark has surrounded himself with people that reinforce his beliefs instead of challenging them.
What role does Sheryl Sandberg play in that>
I have been in the company in 10 years.
So I don't have any view into their private conversations but I do think that there's a sense of, we have to self protect over there.
Which is changing a little bit but I think needs to change quite a bit more.
Right, aybe the two of you all should sit down and talk.
He clearly knows your capabilities and abilities.
Would you be open to that?
Of course, Mark's been a friend, I care about him.
I also think he has too much time.
Gayle is available to moderate.
I'll say we can pass that on to her.
That would be, I'm there.
You raise some interesting points.
Thank you very much Chris.
Thanks for having me.