Head of global affairs at Facebook, Nick Clegg, has rejected calls for the breakup of the social media giant – an idea that is becoming increasingly popular among US democrats.
Clegg’s response follows a column published earlier this week by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who criticised Mark Zuckerberg and urged for the breakup of the company.
Speaking to CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, Clegg said Hughes had “quite rightly highlighted…complex issues” affecting Facebook, such as “data use, privacy” and election interference. But, he added: “Chopping a great American success story into bits is not something that’s going to make those problems go away.”
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In an interview with CNN’s State of Union, Kamala Harris, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, said: “I think that Facebook has experienced massive growth and has prioritised its growth over the best interests of its consumers, especially on the issue of privacy.
“There is no question in my mind that there needs to be serious regulation, and that that has not been happening. There needs to be more oversight. That has not been happening.”
Harris, who compared the social media platform to a utility, said: “There are very few people that can actually get by and be involved in their communities or society or in whatever their profession without somehow, somewhere using Facebook … it is essentially a utility that has gone unregulated. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s got to stop.”
According to Clegg, Facebook has been “dealing with some very profound ethical and political issues”. But, he said: “We do also need regulators, politicians and legislatures to … sort of move beyond the sort of phase of just throwing rocks at each other or where politicians throw rocks at tech and tech throws rocks back.”
Clegg, who has denied Facebook had a monopoly, said that calls for greater regulation of Facebook conveyed a “rather odd message” that the company “should be penalised for [its] success”.
He added: “I don’t think…it’s a very American tradition to start penalising success. That is not what antitrust law is used for. I don’t believe Facebook is a monopoly.”