Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes made big waves last week with his long New York Times piece calling for the company’s breakup. The feds should at least take a hard look at doing that — but they definitely must avoid the idea that Hughes actually shares with Mark Zuckerberg: having the government set standards for social media content.
All that would do is bail out Facebook from having to handle an inherent problem in its business model — and threaten basic free speech protections for all Americans.
The breakup idea is in keeping with the traditional federal approach to monopolies: Hughes argues that the Obama-era Federal Trade Commission was wrong to let Facebook buy WhatsApp and Instagram, two companies that challenged its dominance of social media. Critics from right (Sen. Ted Cruz) to left (Sen. Liz Warren) agree.
But Hughes’ other fix is utterly non-traditional — and perilous. He wants Congress to create a new regulatory agency to oversee tech firms to protect privacy and “basic interoperability” across competing platforms.
Oh, and to “create guidelines for acceptable speech on social media.”