Several days after the US government launched the general antitrust investigation against Big Tech, the New York Times and the Washington Post jointly announced on Friday that Chris Hughes was also back in its Facebook dismantling campaign, the world's largest corporation . he creates social media with Mark Zuckerberg. In recent weeks, he met US senior officials and the Ministry of Justice, academics, chief prosecutors and FTC leaders to discuss a potential antitrust case against Facebook.
According to reports published separately from the New York Times and the Washington Post on Friday, Hughes, who left the gauntlet of social media in 2007 and received nearly $ 500 million in shares around the world. the capital of the country to defend the dismantling of the social network. He went to the country's capital to meet with a dozen legislators and regulators of the Justice Minister, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officers and other interested agencies to investigate whether Facebook has gained too much power over the past decade. the last ten years.
He also talked to the New York Prosecutor's staff. During his tour in the capital, he also met with two of the world's leading competition lawyers – Scott Hemphil of the University of New York and Tim Wu of Columbia University. During his various meetings, Chris Hughes and his interlocutors discussed a potential antitrust case against the social media glove, which now has more than 2.7 billion active users a month. For Hughes, the observation is simple: Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg kill the competition.
Indeed, he had already hinted at this when he launched his call to dismantle Facebook last May in an article published in the New York Times. It's been 15 years since I founded Harvard Facebook and I have not worked for the company for a decade. But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility. Marc's impact is striking, much more than anyone else in the private sector or the government. He controls three major communication platforms – Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – used by billions of people every day, Hughes says in an article published in The New York Times.
According to him, the government should ask Mark's bills. He believes that for too long, MEPs have been amazed by Facebook's explosive growth and have neglected their responsibility to ensure the protection of Americans and the competitiveness of the markets. Soon the FTC has to charge the company $ 5 billion, but that is not enough. Facebook does not propose to name one type of privacy officer. Following Mark's testimony at the congress last year, he had to ask him to really make his mistakes, he explained in his editorial.
According to Hughes, legislators who questioned Mark Zuckerberg after the Cambridge Analytics scandal were ridiculed and represented as too old and misguided to understand how technology works. For him, it is the impression that Zukerberg wants Americans to get because it means that little will change. Immediately after his statement, political figures such as Senator Elizabeth Warren or journalists like Wall Street Journalist Walt Mossberg joined.
They seized Twitter to show their support to Hughes, saying they shared his opinion, namely breaking Facebook and regulating other subjects under a new federal privacy law. Those who want the government to dissolve Facebook claim that this decision will lead to increased competition among social media companies, which may mean more opportunities for consumers. Others say this would cause the company to make more efforts to protect privacy.
So far, it is not known whether these different versions will be enough to dissolve Facebook, but if that were the case, it would be a rare case. How will this happen? It's hard to imagine for the moment, but Hughes and his companions are not dropping their hand. According to both American media, the New York Times and the Washington Post, he and his staff presented a 39-page slideshow in some of their recent meetings, presenting a point-to-point legal argument in favor of dismantling the network. decades of antitrust case law.
Hughes et al. do they keep the right formula this time? Once again, nothing can confirm this. However, Hughes' participation is remarkable, as few founders advocated the elimination of their business. The power of Facebook is based on its wealth and power, as well as the very large number of users. These different moments have made it a monopoly and the acquisition of competitors has created competition. Facebook announced on Wednesday that more than 2.7 billion people use Facebook or its other platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp) at least once a month.
In fact, based on the slogans presented to government officials, Hughes and his associates have tried to show that for nearly ten years Facebook has made acquisitions (Instagram for $ 1 billion in 2012 and Whatsapp for $ 19 billion) . in 2014 for the worst cases) to protect its dominant position in the social networking market. Collecting emerging rivals can allow Facebook to impose higher prices on advertisers and give users less experience, they say.
Only over the past 15 years Facebook has acquired more than 75 small businesses. In addition, the two antitrust lawyers and longtime collaborators have developed an argument for Facebook's fragmentation that appears on the various slides presented at various meetings with members of the government and regulators. Purchases in Instagram and WhatsApp were a gross violation of the Sherman Act, the country's oldest antitrust law, Wu said in an interview.
On the other hand, the observation of the largest technology companies in the world has intensified over the past year, with many complaints being made by competitors or scientists. According to the Washington Post, sober Marcia Blackburn calls Hughes for a meeting earlier this month to discuss privacy and competition. Recently, it has set up a special working group to examine these issues and eventually propose legislative solutions in the coming months.
Legislators and regulators also met with other antitrust experts, such as Barry Lin of the Open Market Institute, and Gene Kemelmann, a former senior Justice Minister who was previously the head of public knowledge, a defense public interest group. The key to Hughes and his teammates is the fact that Facebook kills competition by buying small businesses before they can grow.
It is not certain, however, that FTC will continue to investigate the company's purchases. The investigations of the agency, which may last for months or years, are largely hidden. A FTC representative declined to comment. However, the New York Times noted that antitrust experts argue that it may be the most promising target of the survey over the past few years, focusing on several acquisitions rather than a broad overview of behavior. of the company as a whole.
Sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post
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