Facebook Co-Founder Calls For 'Break Up' of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp

Recently, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put forward the idea to reverse certain tech mergers to promote healthy competition in the market, particularly including Facebook and Instagram. In an op-ed shared today by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, that topic is revisited (via The New York Times).


According to Hughes, the Federal Trade Commission's "biggest mistake" was letting Facebook acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. As the co-founder pointed out, many people left Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but they didn't leave the Facebook ecosystem altogether because of Instagram and WhatsApp, with some people unaware that Facebook owned these social networks.
First, Facebook should be separated into multiple companies. The F.T.C., in conjunction with the Justice Department, should enforce antitrust laws by undoing the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions and banning future acquisitions for several years.

How would a breakup work? Facebook would have a brief period to spin off the Instagram and WhatsApp businesses, and the three would become distinct companies, most likely publicly traded. Facebook shareholders would initially hold stock in the new companies, although Mark and other executives would probably be required to divest their management shares.
In the years since its acqusitions, the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp have left each company, reportedly due to clashing with Mark Zuckerberg and his management of their apps. Hughes described an informal slogan that became well-known in the Facebook offices in the wake of its launch of the "Stories" format on Instagram and Facebook: "Don't be too proud to copy."
The vibrant marketplace that once drove Facebook and other social media companies to compete to come up with better products has virtually disappeared. This means there’s less chance of start-ups developing healthier, less exploitative social media platforms. It also means less accountability on issues like privacy.

Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power. The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.
Although the Cambridge Analytica scandal has passed, in 2019 Facebook continued to appear in headlines regarding data breaches and user privacy issues. In April alone, it was reported that Facebook's executive team used the data of its users as leverage over partner companies; two days later it emerged that Facebook harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent and used the data to build a web of their social connections.

That same day, Facebook confirmed that millions of Instagram passwords were stored on its servers in plain text with no encryption. Similar stories have been shared frequently since news broke about about the Cambridge Analytica scandal just over one year ago.

Amid all of the news, Facebook today announced the launch of a new feature for Stories called "Birthday Stories." Using this ability, friends and family members can add digital birthday cards, photos, or video messages to your Birthday Story, which will be visible at the top of the Facebook iOS app like other Stories.


The feature will be available in the birthday notification that pops up when a friend is celebrating their big day. From there, you'll be able to take a photo or video, share a music sticker on the Story, and more. Once multiple people have added to the Birthday Story, the person in question will be able to browse it like any traditional Facebook or Instagram Story.

The company said that its goal with the new update was expanding on existing birthday features on Facebook, while also continuing to push interaction with Stories. It's been over two years since Facebook Stories began rolling out to users, and nearly three years since Instagram first copied the Stories format from Snapchat.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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23 weeks ago
Facebook is like lung cancer - quit smoking!
Rating: 12 Votes
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23 weeks ago
Why break them up but allow Facebook to acquire them in the first place? Seems a bit counter-intuitive :confused:
Rating: 9 Votes
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23 weeks ago

If FB was smart, it would quickly "annex" all these apps (and all their features) into Facebook proper…. into one singular mega-bloated FB-ware that cannot easily be "broken up". And then disband the remaining shell companies (Instagram, WhatsApp) so that the Regulators would find it impossible to (cleanly) break up FB into separate app-based companies. Foil the regulators.

You have absolutely no idea how business works. lol
Rating: 9 Votes
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23 weeks ago

Self-regulation before a change is forced upon them.


That obviously didn't work did it....

Hope it will be sooner rather than later. (Forced split up)
Rating: 8 Votes
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23 weeks ago

If FB was smart, it would quickly "annex" all these apps (and all their features) into Facebook proper…. into one singular mega-bloated FB-ware that cannot easily be "broken up". And then disband the remaining shell companies (Instagram, WhatsApp) so that the Regulators would find it impossible to (cleanly) break up FB into separate app-based companies. Foil the regulators.


I think Facebook finds it desirable that most people be unaware that Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by them. They like the illusion of competition. Oh, uninformed people want to quit Facebook and move to Instagram or WhatsApp instead? Zuckerberg is just fine with that - their data is still his to do with as he likes, just now they don't know.
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Why break them up but allow Facebook to acquire them in the first place? Seems a bit counter-intuitive :confused:


They're arguing that the wrong decision was made in the first place and the acquisition should have never been allowed. Now that it has gone through, it should be undone.
Rating: 8 Votes
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23 weeks ago

If FB was smart, it would quickly "annex" all these apps (and all their features) into Facebook proper…. into one singular mega-bloated FB-ware that cannot easily be "broken up". And then disband the remaining shell companies (Instagram, WhatsApp) so that the Regulators would find it impossible to (cleanly) break up FB into separate app-based companies. Foil the regulators.


This is exactly what they're doing. They hope to have the process of merging the backends behind all three completed by the end of the calendar year.
Rating: 6 Votes
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23 weeks ago
I’m no fan of social media; Facebook, Twitter, etc (nor Google). Their stance on free speech and politics is heavily biased(as is their right).

But I don’t think government has(or should have?) the authority to break them up.(Yes I am fully aware of the ATT case from years ago).

IMHO, consumers have the ability to cast their vote for the product/service offered. And the company’s decisions will determine if they succeed or fail.
Rating: 5 Votes
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23 weeks ago

You have absolutely no idea how business works. lol

I don't see how his argument is invalid? If push came to shove, Facebook could just fold all of the features of their other apps/businesses into their one core business, Facebook. Then just shut down Instagram and Whatsapp, but retain the functionality under a much more bloated Facebook (as if it could get any more bloated).
edit -- To be fair, I did not go to business school.
Rating: 5 Votes
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23 weeks ago

I think Facebook finds it desirable that most people be unaware that Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by them. They like the illusion of competition. Oh, uninformed people want to quit Facebook and move to Instagram or WhatsApp instead? Zuckerberg is just fine with that - their data is still his to do with as he likes, just now they don't know.


I think that's true. I've heard people proudly declare that they no longer use "Failbook" but they're still using Instagram. I don't think they even know that Facebook owns it.

Personally, I have no problem with the breaking up of huge corporations. It's been done before. They more or less have a monopoly on social media.
Rating: 5 Votes
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23 weeks ago
Shouldn’t have been ever allowed.
Rating: 4 Votes
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