Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who says he sold all of his shares in 2012, believes the company should be broken up. He was as wrong about Facebook in 2012 as he is now. Here are three reasons Facebook should not be broken up.
Facebook use is voluntary
To those who place a high value on Freedom, the government needs to have a compelling reason to prevent people from voluntarily interacting with each other in any lawful manner.
Sending messages to each other about news stories we like is not illegal and shouldn’t be. That some users share content that others find objectionable, or even fake, is not a compelling reason to break up Facebook.
People disagree all the time in many other venues. The New York Times for example often publishes articles that are offensive to lots of people yet no one advocates for them to be broken up and rightly so.
Facebook is not a necessity of life
Hughes argues that Facebook should be broken up just as Standard Oil and AT&T were broken up. But these companies had monopolies on oil and telephone service, two things that most people cannot live without.
Facebook is not in the same league. No one needs Facebook in the same way that we need oil and telephone services. If people don’t like the way Facebook uses their data, they are free to leave the platform without much negative impact on their life.
When it comes to non-essential products and services, Americans should trust each other to make the right decision for themselves before asking the government to make a decision for everyone.
Facebook enables more voices
Before Facebook, most people got their news from newspapers and television. In those days, there was not much room for more than the requisite two sides to every issue.
But, there are always more than two sides to every issue. Facebook enables previously ignored viewpoints to be heard. For example, France’s Yellow Vests have changed French President Macron’s tax policy and rank-and-file teachers in West Virginia won pay raises after organizing a strike in defiance of their union’s order to go back to work.
With 2.4 billion monthly users, Facebook gives voice to many who have been ignored by government (and union) officials and thereby advances the American ideal of forming a more perfect union.
My Take: If Chris Hughes sold all of his Facebook stock in 2012 he sold way too soon. Facebook went public on May 18, 2012, at $38. During 2012, Facebook traded as high as $45 and as low as $18. Today, at $190, Facebook has far exceeded Hughes’ vision for the company.
When people are able to discuss issues with those with whom they disagree, adding more viewpoints could lead to better solutions on a wide range of issues. But, if the government breaks up Facebook, we will never know.