Chris Hughes co-founded Facebook and then left the social media giant in 2007 cashing out his $500 million worth of stock. Now he’s back and he has been visiting lawmakers and regulators at the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies which are all interested in determining whether Facebook has amassed too much power.
The case has been designed anti-trust scholars who hold that Facebook’s wealth, power and massive user base has made it a monopoly and it has acquired its rivals to remove competition as more than 2.7 billion users are engaged on Facebook or its other platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp), at least once a month.
“I hope that my speaking out provides cover to a lot of other folks, whether former employees or current ones, to express ambivalence or concern about what’s going on,” Hughes has said in an interview.
Hughes wrote a widely read New York Times op-ed earlier this year arguing that the company he helped found should be broken up.
He was then contacted by two prominent antitrust scholars, Scott Hemphill of New York University Law School and Tim Wu of Columbia Law School who has been developing an argument for breaking up Facebook. According to them, the purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp was “plain vanilla violation of antitrust law, just low-hanging fruit,” Wu has said in an interview.
Their case centres around the Sherman Act, the government’s primary law for investigating and penalising anticompetitive practices. The law was adopted in 1890 to combat oil and railroad giants the government deemed as monopolies.
The law prohibits the acquiring of another company with the main purpose of getting rid of a potential or actual competitor. According to their case, Facebook did just that when it acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.