Do you know Mark? Mark knows you.
Do you know who does know, Mark? Chris Hughes knows Mark. Hughes was there along with fellow Harvard undergrads Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, and Dustin Moskovitz when Facebook was founded in 2004. Incidentally, Adpulp was founded a few months later that same year.
Because Hughes knows Mark, he is critical of Mark’s choices and the unnatural powers afforded to him. Yesterday, Hughes announced a new $10 million, Anti-Monopoly Fund, to combat Facebook, and other monopolists in the battle for fairness, privacy, and democratic process.
The fund is an initiative of Hughes’ Economic Security Project.
Partners for the initiative include the Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation and George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations, among others.
“We are at a pivotal moment where cultural and political momentum is aligned to rein in the unchecked behavior of Big Tech,” Hughes said.
Let’s reclaim power over our politics and economy from corporations that use their influence to create a system that works in their favor. We’re creating a fund to catalyze big ideas to make our economy work for the public, not profiteers. #AntiMonopoly https://t.co/EnMMS3KYBX pic.twitter.com/aQgMTql1Hw
— Economic Security Project (@EconomicSecProj) October 17, 2019
Hughes, who left Facebook to work for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, said Facebook now has more power than a private sector entity is due. While emphasizing his belief that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has good intentions overall, he said the executive has far too much unchecked power, aided by his majority voting stake in the company.
“The most problematic aspect of Facebook’s power is Mark’s unilateral control over speech,” Hughes wrote. “There is no precedent for his ability to monitor, organize and even censor the conversations of two billion people.”
Mark made a speech yesterday.
In a winding, 35-minute speech at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall, Mark fought back against the idea that his social network needs to be an arbiter of speech. He said that Facebook was founded to give people a voice and bring them together.
“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” Mr. Zuckerberg, 35, said.
Did he just claim to be the inventor of the Fifth Estate? That would be the estate beyond the Fourth Estate, also known as the free press.
Mark added that despite the messiness of free speech, “the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us.”
I’m happy to hear he’s on the challenger page, because I, along with millions of others, openly challenge Mark to make better decisions going forward.
Mark Cozies Up to Conservatives
According to Politico, last July, Mark started hosting “informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker in recent months to talk about issues like free speech and discuss partnerships.”
“The discussion in Silicon Valley is that Mark is very concerned about the Justice Department, under Bill Barr, bringing an enforcement action to break up the company,” said one cybersecurity researcher and former government official based in Silicon Valley.
I don’t see Barr doing the right thing here. Why would he? If Facebook was about to help elect a Democrat, sure, but that’s not the case.