SAN FRANCISCO – Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, has become one of the company's biggest issues.
In recent weeks, Hughes, who left the social media giants in 2007 and paid off his nearly $ 500 million worth of shares in the capital of the country, has a dozen lawmakers and regulators in the Department of Justice Federal Trade Commission and other agencies visited, all of which are interested in investigating whether Facebook has accumulated too much power. He spoke with the attorney general of New York.
In these meetings, in which he sometimes participated himself, he presented a 39-page slide-deck, which provides a punctual legal basis for the division of the social network on the basis of decades of antitrust precedents.
The core of the case, drawn up with the help of two antitrust researchers: Facebook's wealth, power and massive user base have pushed it into monopoly territory, and the acquisition of competitors has destroyed competition. More than 2.7 billion people use Facebook or its other platforms, which include Instagram and the news service WhatsApp, at least once a month, Facebook said on Wednesday former or current employees to their ambivalence or concern about what's going on, Hughes said in an interview Thursday, "And I think there's a lot to worry about."
Hughes, who co-authored Mark Zuckerberg with the social media giants in his dorm at Harvard University It has become a crucial weapon in the fight for more and more fighters and threatens technology giants such as Amazon, Apple and Google with a possible new regulation or even a resolution. "Just this week, the Department of Justice announced launched a new, advanced probe for "market-leading online platforms." On Wednesday, Facebook beka nnt that an antitrust investigation by the FTC is pending.
He became one of the strongest in a new generation of Facebook antagonists: A former manager who believes he has created something is now detrimental to society.
Facebook declined to comment. Some of Hughes' lobbying was first reported in the New York Times.
The growing momentum in the District of Columbia, the role of technology giants in consumer life and the impact on competition ̵
Facebook argued loudly that it is not a monopoly and should not be dissolved. When Zuckerberg testified before the congress in April 2018, he answered a question about the competition Facebook faces, pointing out that the average American uses eight different apps to communicate with friends. "That certainly does not feel that way for me," Zuckerberg said when asked if Facebook was a monopoly of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Hughes launched his campaign in public. After leaving Facebook to volunteer for President Barack Obama, he spent years working in politics and charitable organizations. He was also the owner of the publication New Republic for four years. In 2016, he helped found a think tank on inequality, a topic he wrote a book about last year. The research raised questions about the dangers of concentrating power.
"I had a very personal realization that I can not talk to anything that has anything to do with anti-monopoly work without dealing with my own past," he said. "The enormous monopoly power is why I have the financial resources I have."
Hughes wrote a New York Times statement this summer, arguing that the company he co-founded should be dissolved.
The decision to "I knew I would lose some friends and that's fine, because some things are so important," he said. "But on the other hand, it was nice to have the argument and express my opinion on what I think and believe."
Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs and communications, responded that a few days later he wrote his own, arguing that Facebook should not be dismantled. "What matters is not our size, but the rights and interests of consumers and our accountability to governments and legislators who oversee trade and communications." Shortly thereafter, Hughes was contacted by two well-known anticellists, Scott Hemphill of New, York University's Law School and Tim Wu of Columbia University's Law School. The two scientists and longtime collaborators had developed an argument for the resolution of Facebook. For them, buying Instagram and WhatsApp was a "pure vanilla violation of antitrust laws, low-hanging fruit," Wu said in an interview. They started bringing legislators and regulators together.
Scientists and lawmakers who worked with Hughes said he had been helpful in explaining the motivations and positions of key players on Facebook, including Zuckerberg, though Hughes says he has no specific insider knowledge. They say that Hughes can shape the business practices of today's Silicon Valley in a way that is fraught with largely untested antitrust laws written decades ago for large oil and railway companies.
After the legislators of the House started their extensive antitrust investigations against Facebook and Twitter, Hughes was one of the first to consult them who had worked with him in June, Rep. David Cicilline, chairman of the panel, told DR.I. , Hughes silently visited the members of the Parliament's competitive top committee earlier this month and met with lawmakers and their staff to discuss many of the issues raised in his statement.
Hughes presented his views as a former Facebook insider, something that gave credibility to his arguments, Cicilline said. "It is remarkable and important for me and my colleagues that someone who plays such a role in founding the company has the ability and the courage to really say:" We have some challenges, some things that It has to be considered. "
The Hughes case and scientists have dealt with the Sherman Act in their presentation centers, the main law of the government to investigate and punish anti-competitive practices. Congress passed the law in 1890 in a period of rapid US consolidation that produced oil and railroad giants, which the government later challenged as monopolies.
The Act and its subsequent updates prohibit the acquisition of another company with the primary purpose of getting rid of a potential or actual competitor.
Facebook did just that, when it acquired Instagram and 2014 WhatsApp in 2012, according to the team's presentation. While Instagram was tiny – barely a competitor – Zuckerberg identified his explosive growth on cell phones as an obvious antidote to Facebook's mostly desktop product. Mobile was seen as a clear weakness for Facebook when the company launched its public offer in 2012.
Hughes & # 39; feedback coined the case of the scientists. He helped them understand how Silicon Valley executives think about competition, which is measured by virus growth rather than size, said Hemphill, a professor in Columbia. At that time, the two professors worked on a roadshow in which they attended Hughes.
While Instagram was tiny, it grew rapidly. "That must have been scary for Facebook," said Hemphill. "It helps to bring home the threat, the observability of the threat and the intensity of home."
Motivation can be the deciding factor in successfully launching a cartel case against a giant company, Hemphill said. For example, a memo from CEO Bill Gates, in which he suggested Netscape to trigger an "Internet tsunami," was a case that suggested why the company protected its operating system.
The trio also features Facebook's tremendous record and user base, something that impressed legislators of the House of Representatives when Hughes introduced them this month. "Facebook accounts for over 80 percent of all social media revenue worldwide and controls 58 percent of the US social media market, which is significant."
Throughout the Capitol, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Sought Hughes for a meeting earlier this month to discuss privacy and competition. The Republican legislator has recently launched a special "task force" to investigate these issues and possibly endorse legislative solutions in the coming months.
For years, Blackburn has established laws restricting the way in which technical giants gather and monetize user data. Facebook has long resisted its lobby organizations. However, she said that Hughes was "very familiar" with it and encouraged Blackburn to make general efforts to "introduce guidelines and guidelines" during her meeting.
Legislators and regulators have also held meetings with other antitrust regulators, including experts such as Barry Lynn of the Open Markets Institute and Gene Kimmelman, a former top-notch DOJ detective who until recently led public knowledge, an advocacy group advocating stronger enforcement Competition Against Technology and Telecommunications Uses Consolidation.
Hughes spoke to the public in June after meeting Kimmelman at an event.
"I think he's very interested in his wider philosophy," Kimmelman said. "He is very concerned about the concentration of wealth and power in society."
Hughes said he has not heard from his longtime friend and co-founder Zuckerberg since the publication of op-ed.